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The Washing Machine

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The Washing Machine

How Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Soils Us

Thomson South-Western,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Whether they sell guns, gems or drugs, money laundering`s criminals have a dangerous common goal: profits for terrorism.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


With huge swaths of the world’s economy taking place in the black market, money laundering has turned into an intractable problem with wide-ranging consequences. British journalist Nick Kochan offers an intriguing study of this shadowy world. He argues that laundering was an overlooked problem in the U.S. before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks pushed the issue to the fore. Indeed, he says, Americans were oblivious to the effects of dirty money. Kochan details the sordid sagas of Russian gangsters, Colombian kingpins and corrupt Mexican bankers. At times, his broad approach hinders his prose, and his examples aren’t always as compelling as they should be. Still, getAbstract recommends this eye-opening study to anyone who deals with the global movement of money.


From Al Capone to Osama Bin Laden

The world’s most ambitious crooks and killers, from Al Capone to Osama Bin Laden, have learned to game the international monetary system. From diamonds and drugs to cigarettes and weapons, criminals have found myriad ways to earn dirty money and then wash it. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks raised money laundering’s place on law enforcement’s priority list. Yet mobsters and terrorists have stayed one step ahead of financial regulators and keep oiling the shadowy financial machine that makes their crimes possible.

The roots of modern money laundering can be traced to Capone. The Chicago mobster invested in Cuban casinos and kept his money in banks in the Bahamas, where local officials could be counted on not to make trouble. Capone sidekick Meyer Lansky continued the tradition by making stooges of the governments in Haiti and the Bahamas, and exploiting the secrecy of Swiss banks. Now Capone and Lansky are quaint, even romantic, names, yet their schemes laid the groundwork for today’s vicious terrorists.

From Russia with Cash

Launderers thrive amid chaos, so unsurprisingly Russia in the 1990s became a hotbed of financial ...

About the Author

Nick Kochan is a writer, journalist and researcher who covers bank fraud and white-collar crime. He writes for a number of publications, including Financial Times and The Economist.

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