2021 GS3 Answer

Q. Discuss how emerging technologies and globalisation contribute to money laundering. Elaborate measures to tackle the problem of money laundering both at national and international levels.

Question from UPSC Mains 2021 GS3 Paper

Model Answer: 

Money laundering is the process of concealing the true origin of illegally obtained funds through various transactions in order to make the money appear legitimate. Emerging technologies and globalization have significantly contributed to the increase in money laundering activities, making it difficult to detect and prevent these illegal activities. In this answer, we will explore how emerging technologies and globalization contribute to money laundering and measures that can be taken at national and international levels to tackle the problem.

Emerging technologies and money laundering:

Emerging technologies such as cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and other online payment systems have created new opportunities for money laundering. These technologies provide anonymity and the ability to conduct transactions without the need for intermediaries, which makes it difficult to track and trace the source of funds. For example:

  • Cryptocurrencies: Transactions involving cryptocurrencies can be anonymous, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to trace the source of funds. Additionally, cryptocurrencies can be easily transferred across borders without the need for intermediaries, making it an attractive option for criminals to move their illicit funds.
  • Blockchain technology: The decentralized nature of blockchain technology makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to trace the source of funds, as transactions are recorded on a public ledger without revealing the identity of the individuals involved.
  • Online payment systems: Online payment systems such as PayPal, Skrill, and Neteller have made it easier for individuals to move funds across borders without the need for intermediaries. These payment systems can be used to create multiple accounts, making it difficult to trace the source of funds.

Globalisation and money laundering:

Globalisation has created new opportunities for money laundering, as individuals can easily move funds across borders without the need for intermediaries. Additionally, the growth of international trade has created new opportunities for criminals to launder their money through trade-based money laundering. For example:

  • Trade-based money laundering: Criminals can use trade transactions to move their illicit funds across borders without detection. For example, criminals can use over-invoicing or under-invoicing of goods to move funds across borders.
  • Offshore accounts: The growth of offshore accounts has made it easier for individuals to hide their funds from law enforcement agencies. Offshore accounts can be used to conceal the true ownership of funds, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to trace the source of funds.

Measures to tackle money laundering:

National level:

  • Strengthening anti-money laundering laws: Countries should strengthen their anti-money laundering laws to ensure that they are in line with international standards.
  • Enhancing regulatory oversight: Financial institutions should be subjected to enhanced regulatory oversight to ensure that they are complying with anti-money laundering laws.
  • Enhancing enforcement: Law enforcement agencies should be equipped with the necessary resources and expertise to detect and investigate money laundering activities.

International level:

  • Strengthening international cooperation: Countries should cooperate with each other to share information and intelligence to detect and prevent money laundering activities.
  • Implementing international standards: Countries should implement international standards such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations to combat money laundering.
  • Enhancing cross-border enforcement: Law enforcement agencies should work together to investigate and prosecute money laundering activities across borders.

Conclusion:

Emerging technologies and globalization have significantly contributed to the increase in money laundering activities, making it difficult to detect and prevent these illegal activities. It is essential for countries to strengthen their anti-money laundering laws, enhance regulatory oversight, and enhance enforcement to combat money laundering at the national level. At the international level, countries should cooperate with each other to share information and intelligence, implement international standards, and enhance cross-border enforcement to combat money laundering.

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