Money Laundering – Layering

Money laundering requires criminal groups who want to effectively use illegally obtained funds. Dealing with large amounts of unlawful currency is ineffective and risky. Therefore, criminals need a mechanism to deposit money in legitimate financial institutions, but they can only do so if the money appears from respective sources.

illegitimate funds enable criminals to fund other criminal operations. Furthermore, money laundering promotes corruption, distorts economic decision-making, magnifies societal issues, and jeopardises financial institution integrity.

Money laundering layering is a technique used by criminals to conceal their assets. They transfer funds between accounts and businesses. The more layers there are, the more difficult it is for law enforcement to track the funding source.

What is layering in money laundering?

The process of using layers of transactions or different financial instruments to disguise illegal money as illegitimate money is known as layering of money laundering.

When the proceeds of a crime enter the financial system and their origins are removed from the illegal source, the funds are moved, distributed, and hidden to avoid identification by law authorities.

To ensure the money moves globally and prevent authorities from simply following the finances, the cash is split into smaller transactions and transferred abroad.

How is the layering stage of money laundering achieved?

Money laundering layering involves transfer of funds so they can no longer be traced to their source. To escape and avoid detection of money laundering, investments can be made into advanced financial possibilities and shifted regularly.

Layering can be performed in the following manner:

  • Investing the money that is to be laundered through casinos in real estate and other investments. Many countries lack money protections for layering or ‘structuring’, which occurs when criminals use false fronts like strangers to buy real estate while they are the true beneficiaries.
  • Shell companies are used to hide beneficial ownership.
  • High-value assets, such as vehicles or artwork, are resold.
  • Changing cash into financial instruments like traveller’s checks, money orders, stocks, bonds, nonfungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrency.
  • Several transactions are made among several banks and financial institutions to hide paper trail.
  • Creating fake employees for other legal businesses to extort money from them.
  • Dividends are paid to shareholders of corporations operated by criminals.

Layering and placement


Layering is shifting money around in the financial system to hide the source of the money. Exchanging monetary instruments for greater or smaller quantities is an example.

  • Funds are transferred or received.
  • Multiple accounts are used to buy and sell securities.
  • Getting a loan from a bank or other financial organisation.


The entrance of illegal proceeds into the financial system is known as placement. Any attempt to avoid regulatory reporting requirements for cash/currency transactions made with a financial institution is classified as structuring, a sort of placement activity. Placement examples include the following:

  • Checks for amounts that are marginally over or below reporting or recording thresholds
  • The physical crossing of a border with illegal currency or monetary instruments
  • Using a legitimate business to mix dirty money with legitimate sales receipts

Post-layering in money laundering

After the money laundering layering process is complete, a procedure known as ‘extraction’ is followed to properly integrate funds back into legitimate financial institutions and use the money to purchase any item.

Because money is reintroduced into legitimate financial institutions, anti-money laundering (AML) measures can be used to detect and trace money laundering through methods such as enhanced due diligence (EDD) and Know Your Customer (KYC) inspections.

Impact of Money Laundering Layering on Business

If criminal funds can be easily processed through a particular institution because either the employees or directors were bribed or because the institution turns a blind eye to the criminal or the institution is drawn into active collaboration with criminals and become a part of the criminal network itself. Evidence of such collaboration negatively impacts the opinions of other financial mediators, regulatory agencies, and ordinary customers.

Unimaginable cross-border asset transfers, inexplicable changes in money demand, prudential risks to bank stability, contamination effects on legal and financial transactions, and increase in international capital flows and exchange rates are potential negative macroeconomic consequences of unchecked money laundering.

Successful money laundering/layering harms the integrity of society and weakens democracy and the rule of law because it promotes corruption and crime.


Money laundering/layering is performed after placement. The layering stage is the most difficult and frequently involves international fund transfers. In this stage, the objective is to separate the illegal money from its source. This objective is accomplished by layering financial transactions to obscure the audit trail, and the link to the initial crime is severed.

During this stage, money launderers may begin electronically moving funds from one country to another and subsequently dividing them into investments in advanced financial options or overseas markets. Constantly moving avoids detection, exploiting loopholes, miscalculating legislation and delays in judicial or police cooperation.


What are the stages of money laundering?

Placement, layering, and integration are the stages of money laundering layering.

How to trace money laundering layering?

Money laundering layering is traced through the anti-money laundering (AML) system.

What are the main activities of money laundering layering?

Transferring and receiving money, creating multiple accounts, selling shares and securities are the main activities of money laundering layering.

What is the difference between money laundering layering and placement?

Layering denotes shifting money from the financial system to hide the source of the money. The placing of illegal proceeds into the financial system is known as placement.

Criminal Law