Money laundering generally is any act or attempt to act for concealing or disguising the nature of illegal proceeds, so that they appear to be of legal and legitimate sources. In other words, it is a process during which, the shape, origin, characteristics, nature, beneficiary owner or final destination of dirty money changes.
Measures undertaken in the major financial markets for detection and tracing money laundering cases, has pushed criminal activity toward less-developed (regarding financial system) markets. Unchecked, money laundering activities can erode and corrupt financial system and paralyze development efforts in the emerging markets.
Money laundering often consists of a series of complex transactions, but generally involves three basic stages
Stage 1: Placement- the process of placing dirty money into financial and monetary system.
Stage 2: Layering- the process of separating the illicit proceeds of criminal activity from their origin or activities raising them
Stage 3: Integration- the process of disguising and giving legitimate appearance to the wealth gotten from illicit proceeds
The economic consequences of money laundering are: distorting and destabilizing economy; reducing government’s revenues; diminishing government control over economic policies; shifting the direction of investments and pushing financial capitals out of the country; weakening economic security; undermining private sector; creating barriers on the way of privatization; undermining and eroding integrity of financial markets; affecting adversely on interest and exchange rates; increasing credit risks. Additionally, money laundering transfers economic power from the market, government and citizens to criminals and criminal organizations. Economic power, transferred to criminals and criminal organizations, has devastating effects on all of foundations and parts of society. In general, the phenomenon of money laundering can contaminate and destabilize financial markets, political and economic foundations, and threaten social bases and principles.
Generally the common point and goal for all international measures undertaken to combat money laundering is considering money as the most important driving factor of all kinds of crimes and criminal activities behind it. On this basis, for fighting against these crimes to be successful, depends to a great extent on depriving criminals from utilization of benefits and gains of their criminal activities, two different approaches in this respect are distinguished in two extremes: European approach and American approach. The European approach allows banks and other financial institutions to assess money laundering cases freely; provided that the cases and instances relating to money laundering operations are reported to the competent authorities. But on the other extreme, American approach requires these institutions and entities to disclose information on any movement or trading that worth more than $10000.
In general, providing legal, regulatory and administrative conditions necessary for detecting and barring the entry channels of dirty money into the formal financial system of national economy in Iran is of critical importance. In this paper. The most important areas for securing national economy against damages resulting from the entry of dirty money into formal sector have been introduced.