Book Chapter

Policing illicit financial flows: multi-agency co‑operation and legal developments



Egan M (2018) Policing illicit financial flows: multi-agency co‑operation and legal developments. In: den Boer M (ed.) Comparative Policing from a Legal Perspective. Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 210-230.

From the 1980s onwards there has been an escalation in the attention given to the policing of illicit financial flows by international organizations. This attention has resulted in the development of hard and soft law demanding or encouraging domestic implementation. However, it is important to acknowledge that although the concept of ‘illicit financial flows’ is becoming popular in policy documentation and academic research, it gives the impression of a singularity of criminal conduct, which is misleading. It must be recognized that the concept is simply a convenient term to capture a variety of ‘activities aimed at moving funds and assets across national borders in contravention to national or international laws’. Indeed, international and regional attention has been given to corruption, tax offences including fraud, and, of course, the development of cybercrime, which has the potential to facilitate all manner of illicit financial flows. Measures seeking to facilitate prevention, investigation, prosecution, and punishment of such movements have become intertwined as international, regional, and national laws attempt to anticipate ‘new’ typologies of illicit financial flows. While one can assert that there is an overarching global appetite to stem the flow of illicit finance, the contribution of comparative legal research is to unpack how this has been developed and implemented, and to question its coherence. This chapter focuses on the multi-agency policing of money laundering. It addresses to what extent the international and regional legislative frameworks have established a common legal approach to the definition of conduct, preventative policing mechanisms, and the attribution of penalties. It challenges the assertion of harmonization through a closer examination of the legal situation in the United Kingdom, demonstrating that competing governance structures of police organizations will materially influence the way in which money laundering is policed and the role of financial investigation within it. Reflecting on this domestic implementation, it concludes that jurisdictions are likely to experience similar tensions in the policing of other irregular financial flows.

Title of seriesResearch Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Publication date21/12/2018
PublisherEdward Elgar
Publisher URL…egal-perspective
Place of publicationCheltenham
ISBN978 1 78536 910 0

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Dr Mo Egan

Dr Mo Egan

Senior Lecturer, Law