Everything you wanted to know about money-laundering but were afraid to ask

"If we were serious about crime, we’d take most of the cops off the streets and replace them with accountants": this, from the introduction to CZ Edwards' amazing Twitter thread about the nuts-and-bolts of money-laundering and how it applies to modern geopolitics, including Trump's assassination of an Iranian government official and the role that Trump's real-estate, failed businesses and casinos played in the global money-laundry, without which most serious crime would collapse.

Edwards' work was last featured here when she described Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) in detail, explaining how Trump and his fellow oligarchs used the global property market to launder unethical gains while simultaneously destroying our cities. Her genius for taking the incredibly important, incredibly complex, and usually very boring world of financial crimes and rendering them legible, infuriating and comprehensible is on fine display here.

Shell corporations evolved as a way to limit liability, first for shipping, then for anything with risk.

For an investor, it makes sense to isolate a project in its own corp, because if the project goes bust, those injured can only get that project’s assets, not everything. (Don’t assume I approve of any of this.)

Set up enough nested shells in various jurisdictions? Anyone trying to sue is going to have to contend with the courts in multiple states/nations, and probably won’t have the money to keep going.

The Trumps use this *frequently*. Shells are most useful for limiting civil litigation; they’re not proof against criminal indictment.

Alas, most of the developed world treats financial crime as a civil matter. It’s rare to see execs go to prison for wage theft, malfeasance or selling junk products. Why do financial crimes tend to be treated as civil?

Because the people who wrote the laws didn’t want their own profitable behavior criminalized.

Foundations of the #MoneyLaundry - A Twitter Seminar thread [CZ Edwards/Unroll Me]

(Image: Steve Jurvetson, CC BY, modified))