Money laundering occurs in almost every crime where there is a financial motive. People who commit most crimes have, at least as one of their motives, personal enrichment. Because of the need to hide the fact that wealth came from a criminal act, the criminals need to disguise the money. This forms the basis of all moneylaundering and tax crimes. Completing the money-laundering activity generally involves a series of transactions designed to disguise the source of funds, so that these assets may be used without discovery by law enforcement. Through the moneylaundering process the individual tries to transform the appearance of the funds derived from the illegal activity into funds having come from a legitimate source. There has been an emerging new system of money-laundering where the use of legitimate commercial trade activity is being used by criminals involved in illegal activity to disguise their criminally derived profits as coming from legitimate businesses.
William F. Bruton CFE, Money Laundering: Is It Now A Corporate Problem?, 17 Penn St. Int'l L. Rev. 437 (1999).