Money Laundering Through Art: A Criminal Justice Perspective 2013th Edition
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From the Back Cover
This volume provides a bird’s eye view of novel ways in which money is laundered through illegal activities involving art. Criminals and those involved in illegal activities have discovered the art world to be an effective and clandestine arena through which they can launder money internationally. Unfortunately, investigators, prosecutors, judges and regulatory agencies in most countries are not equipped to accurately detect, investigate and prosecute this type of criminal activity. Furthermore, international laws and treaties involving the art world have many loopholes that can potentially lead to the laundering of large sums of money.
Addressing this gap in the literature, Money Laundering Through Art: A Criminal Justice Perspective can serve as a guide for academics, prosecutors, judges, law enforcement officials and others involved in efforts to curb money laundering and the financing of terrorism. It provides an overview of methods of money laundering through art, as well as specific case studies. Additionally, this book reveals why new techniques used by criminals have been largely neglected by law enforcement in many countries.
The author, drawing from his own experience with the matter in both Brazil and the United States, makes a case for broader institutional and regulatory improvement, extending beyond mere regulation of the art market. He concludes with a number of concrete recommendations to improve the fight against illegal money laundering via artwork.
About the Author
- Publisher : Springer; 2013th edition (June 19, 2013)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 233 pages
- ISBN-10 : 3319001728
- ISBN-13 : 978-3319001722
- Item Weight : 10.57 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Customer Reviews:
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A little background: one of the major challenges significant criminal enterprises face is turning black money white, that is, cleaning the dirty money so it can re-enter the legitimate financial world and be used to buy all the things you saw in Scarface. The opaque and squirrelly art market has become a prime way to do this, with its penchant for secrecy and anonymity, as well as for the huge amounts of money sloshing through it. This isn't about Pierce Brosnan stealing paintings in order to charm Rene Russo out of her dress; it's about drug cartels, gun runners, and mafias of various stripes needing ways to move their funds around and make them presentable enough to buy stakes in the non-criminal world.
Author De Sanctis is a JD with a 25-year career in criminal law. He's currently a federal appellate judge in Sao Paolo, appointed to a specialized Brazilian federal court that handles financial crimes and money-laundering cases. All this goes to say that he certainly has the background and technical knowledge to write on the subject. His prose is rather better than you'd expect for someone who's a lawyer and also speaks English as a second language; still, it's a textbook, not John Le Carre, so don't expect you'll get through it all in one sitting.
This slim volume (barely 200 pages) starts with lengthy discussions of the history of money-laundering law and enforcement. De Sanctis also outlines the various channels through which illicit funds can flow (wire transfers, moneychangers, prepaid cash cards and so on) and some of the channels for international law-enforcement and investigatory cooperation. An interesting feature is a closing chapter in which De Sanctis assembles all the open questions he asked in the beginning and attempts to answer them -- kind of an FAQ, which serves as a decent summary for all the information. If you're looking for a primer on the legal framework surrounding money laundering, you'll certainly get it here.
While the title is "Money Laundering through Art," though, art itself doesn't show up in any notable way until Chapters 4 and 5, the only ones featuring art as a vehicle for money laundering or disguising assets. The discussion is truly at a bird's-eye level, as long as that bird is flying at around 10,000 feet. De Sanctis outlines the major classes of players in the art world (dealers, museums, insurance companies, and so on), mentions some of the peculiarities of the art market that make chasing down bad actors so difficult, and reviews some notable recent-ish cases.
Unfortunately, he spends little time talking about the details of the crimes themselves and much more on the legal disposition of the ensuing cases. Several of the cases he cites seem to involve art only as part of the swag the authorities seized from the scofflaws, not necessarily as a vehicle for the money laundering itself. There are disappointingly few actual case studies; Chapter 5, in which most of them appear, is one of the shortest chapters in the book, and much of it consists of either bite-sized digests of news reports or exhaustive plumbing of the judicial findings in a handful of cases that in some instances seem only marginally related to the subject at hand. Other than some juicy tidbits about using stored-value cards and charitable trusts to disguise the transfer of illicit funds, I'm not much more informed now about the methods of money laundering than I was going into this.
While the back cover seems to promise an international view of the subject, it turns out to be surprisingly narrow. I learned far more than I needed to about the Brazilian legal system, a good deal about U.S. law, but very little about European regulations or processes and virtually nothing about Asia, the new, hot market for illicit art sales. Money laundering in general and the illicit art trade in particular are global businesses, but we don't get much of a view of what goes on in most of the world. Another puzzling lapse is the author's failure to probe the confluence of corporate secrecy laws (anonymous shell companies and so on), bank secrecy (Singapore, BVI, Jersey), and the prevalence of anonymous buyers and sellers in the art market. This menage a trois is tailor-made for chicanery, but plays no part in the narrative.
Did the author fulfill the promise of his back-cover text? Partly. Money Laundering through Art does deliver an overview of laws and jurisprudence regarding money laundering in general in a reasonably digestible way. But it's only a surface review of how art is used to clean money, not the deeper plunge it seems to have been meant to be. It's a pricey little book, so make sure you want what it actually delivers before you hit "buy now".