Written by Nur Zarisa binti Mohd Zait, a first-year law student of the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya.
Edited by Tan Jia Shen and Celin Khoo Roong Teng. Reviewed by Zafirah Jaya.
Money laundering can be perceived from two opposing perspectives. It serves one’s materialistic lust, yet it also exists as one of the contributors to a destabilised economy. Malaysia has several established policies and legislation to curb the menace.
On 28th July 2020, Malaysia marked history when Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak became the first former Prime Minister to be convicted of abuse of power, breach of trust, and money laundering. He was guilty of all seven charges relating to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, in which he siphoned billions of dollars of funds into his personal account. Malaysians rejoiced when the verdict delivered by High Court judge Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali brought victory in combating money laundering offences among corrupt politicians and government officials. As the joy slowly wore off, alongside the celebration sparked curiosity: what exactly is ‘money laundering’ and how does it work?
Money laundering has been in existence for centuries. Mass media and entertainment industries have portrayed dirty money on the big screen to educate viewers on the menace of money laundering and how criminals escape their liability. While some consider huge-scaled money laundering as filthy acts that contribute to financial crises, others yearn to enjoy luxurious lifestyles living off siphoned wealth — sailing on 300-foot million-dollar yachts, spending billions on Picassos and Van Gogh, or wagering in casinos. Thus, we wonder: is money laundering an art for which money is obtained through manipulation in serving our endless materialistic lust? Or is it a menace — a hidden threat that saps the economy and destabilises the government. This article caters to the average layperson by providing an insight into money laundering and highlighting policies as well as legislation in place to combat it.