Corruption and Anti-Money Laundering Systems: Putting a Luxury Good to Work
Systems of laws, regulations, and institutions developed to counter money laundering provide powerful tools for fighting corruption. Currently, however, the potential benefits anti-money-laundering (AML) systems can provide in fighting corruption go largely unrealized, especially in developing countries. This mismatch poses a puzzle: Why are developing countries failing to best capitalize on their expensive AML systems by using them to fight corruption? The article is built on three core claims. The first claim is that it is logical to use AML systems for anti-corruption purposes because of a pronounced overlap in the standards required for each and the rising costs of the former. The second section demonstrates specifically how AML systems could significantly augment anti-corruption efforts, focusing on the importance of financial intelligence, asset confiscation, and international cooperation. Finally, although powerful outsiders have successfully diffused AML systems among developing countries, a lack of "ownership" in the latter explains why these systems are often established only as tokens to enhance international legitimacy and reputations.
Comparative Government and Politics