The famous gangster “Al Capone” was executed in 1931 for tax evasion. Consequent upon Al Capone execution, ways and means were look means were looked into by the Mafia to avoid being caught and then prosecuted on such charges. The best way found to safeguard tainted money from being sequestered by the state was to establish numbered accounts in Swiss Banks where no question were asked about the origin of funds because it was easier to hide illicit earnings and assets in these bank accounts.
The term money laundering was first used in US court in 1982.Earlier, it was used to refer to cleansing illicit earnings generated from drugs smuggling and gun running. Now its scope has been expanded to include all processes and transaction that help legalize illicit earnings including those from kidnapping, smuggling in general, bribery, kickbacks, organized crime including prostitution and gun-running, terrorism,etc.
When compared to robbery, theft, and even dealings in illicit drugs, being a non-violent criminal activity, most people do not even consider Money laundering a crime since they look at it as mere exchange of money for money. On the contrary, Money laundering is mechanisms that encourages and assists criminals, drug traffickers, terrorist, insider traders, and tax evaders, bribe seekers etc., to engage in crime without fear of being and the illicit wealth being consficated.The activities of criminals involved in the above-referred activities, and the volume of tainted money generated by these activities is so voluminous that former US Secretary of State George Shultz once said,” today’s criminals make the Capone crowd and old Mafia look like small time crooks.”