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Lawyers as money laundering enablers? An evolving and contentious relationship

Levi, Michael ORCID: 2022. Lawyers as money laundering enablers? An evolving and contentious relationship. Global Crime 23 (2) , pp. 126-147. 10.1080/17440572.2022.2089122

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Using limited datasets and case studies drawn from the Global North and South, this article critically considers the available evidence about the involvement of lawyers in elite money laundering and attempts to control their involvement. In addition to lawyers’ lobbying and drafting laws , the normal focus of the ‘enablers’ discourse is on lawyers using expert knowledge and legal professional privilege/professional secrecy to facilitate frauds and to conceal the criminal origins of the funds of others. In few known laundering-for-others casesis there much evidence that lawyer assistance goes beyond doing their normal business: setting up constructions for clients that avoid external scrutiny is usually legal. It is implausible to fully resolve the extent to which lawyer ‘enablers’ are, respectively, naïve, negligent, wilfully blind and/or intentionally criminal. Within-firm supervision and both real and expected regulatory/criminal justice/reputational controls may have an impact, but the evidence base for assessing control effectiveness remains weak.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1744-0572
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 July 2022
Date of Acceptance: 2 June 2022
Last Modified: 22 May 2023 21:52

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