Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Money Laundering Definition:

The conversion or transfer of money obtained by crime for the purposes of frustrating law enforcement.

Related Terms: Money, Hawala

Canada's Criminal Code defines money laundering as:

"Every one commits an offence who uses, transfers the possession of, sends or delivers to any person or place, transports, transmits, alters, disposes of or otherwise deals with, in any manner and by any means, any property or any proceeds of any property with intent to conceal or convert that property or those proceeds, knowing or believing that all or a part of that property or of those proceeds was obtained or derived directly or indirectly as a result of the commission in Canada of a designated offence; or an act or omission anywhere that, if it had occurred in Canada, would have constituted a designated offence."

The international Financial Action Task Force, based in Paris, France, defines money laundering using these words:

"The goal of a large number of criminal acts is to generate a profit for the individual or group that carries out the act. Money laundering is the processing of these criminal proceeds to disguise their illegal origin. This process is of critical importance, as it enables the criminal to enjoy these profits without jeopardising their source."

Jeffrey Robinson described money laundering as follows, in his 1998 book The Laundreymen:

"Money laundering is called what it is because that perfectly describes what takes place - illegal or dirty money is put through a cycle of transactions, or washed, so that it comes out the other end as legal or clean money. In other words, the source of illegally obtained funds is obscured through a succession of transfers and deals in order that those same funds can eventually be made to reappear as legitimate income."

In Trade-Based Money Laundering, Vancouver lawyer Christine Duhaime describes it as:

"... to convert dirty money — the proceeds of illegal activities — into clean cash to disguise its illicit origin."


  • Booth, Robin and others, Money Laundering Law and Regulation - A Practical Guide (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)
  • Criminal Code, Revised Statutes of Canada 1985, Chapter 46, §462.31
  • Duhaime's Anti-Money Laundering Law in Canada
  • Duhaime, Christine, "Trade-based Money Laundering", The Lawyers' Weekly, July 17, 2009 (Toronto, Canada)
  • Robinson, Jeffrey, The Laundrymen (London: Simon & Schuster, 1998), page 3.

Categories & Topics:

Always looking up definitions? Save time with our search provider (modern browsers only)

If you find an error or omission in Duhaime's Law Dictionary, or if you have suggestion for a legal term, we'd love to hear from you!