The 5 Best Money Laundering Books

Last updated: 1 January 2021

In this page I feature the best money laundering books available right now. From money laundering true-crime stories, to money laundering prevention guides, to advice on complying with anti-money laundering regulations. We've got you covered with our shortlists and top 5 ranking. 

All books featured are beginner friendly and don't assume much prior knowledge. With prices ranging from £8 - £80, stocking up on a few of the best money laundering books can deliver the same value as an expensive seminar for only a fraction of the cost. They can even be read for free with Amazon's Kindle Unlimited free trial.

Click on any title below to see the latest price from Amazon, you'll be shocked at how affordable the most popular titles are. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases which helps to support this site. This does not impact how I compile the list. Happy reading!

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Money laundering handbooks for financial institutions

Comprehensive guides to the latest money laundering legislation in the UK, USA and others.


Financial Expert tip: The hardcover versions of these money laundering books are in high demand! They can recoup up to 80% of their cover price when sold in good used condition.

Therefore if you plan to eventually sell back a title, your net cost could be as low as 20% of the cover price.

Click on the covers below to look at the used prices of these titles on Amazon to understand what cash back you could expect. 

Money laundering for beginners

Your introduction to the issue of money laundering and terrorist financing

Money laundering true crime

Fascinating insights into the underworld of moving the money of organised crime

Money laundering - lighter reads

Shorter guides which linger less on the legal and focus more on the substantive issues

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If you're cost-savvy, you'll already be calculating the savings you could unlock and the knowledge you could gain by downloading 5 books over the next 30 days.


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My Top 5 Money Laundering Books for 2021

Click covers to see latest reviews and prices



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"In Anti–Money Laundering in a Nutshell: Awareness and Compliance for Financial Personnel and Business Managers, Kevin Sullivan draws on a distinguished career as an AML agent and consultant to teach personnel in financial institutions what money laundering is, who does it, how they do it, how to prevent it, how to detect it, and how to report it in compliance with federal law.

He traces the dynamic interplay among employees, regulatory examiners, compliance officers, fraud and forensic accountants and technologists, criminal investigators, and prosecutors in following up on reports, catching launderers, and protecting the integrity and reputations of financial institutions and businesses. In particular, corporate investigators will gain rich insights winnowed from the author's experiences as a New York State and federal investigator."

Who this book is for:

A comprehensive guide for those who are serious about immersing themselves in money laundering.

Anti-Money Laundering in a Nutshell by Kevin Sullivan is my favourite AML title available today.

Currently rated at 4.7/5.0 on Amazon with 50 reviews, it's one of the best-reviewed books in the genre.

Anti–Money Laundering, in a Nutshell, is a concise, accessible, and practical guide to compliance with anti-money laundering law for financial professionals, corporate investigators, business managers, and all personnel of financial institutions who are required, under penalty of hefty fines, to get anti-money laundering training.



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"It is estimated that between 2 and 5 per cent of global GDP (over $3 trillion) is laundered by criminals around the world every year. Once thought to be a problem which only affected banks and the financial services sector, high profile cases, such as the recent leak of the Panama Papers in 2016, have thrust the issue into the public arena, and governments around the world are being forced to put robust systems and controls in place. Anti-Money Laundering offers a cost-effective self-development tool for the busy compliance professional eager to progress their career and in need of an accessible, practical and jargon-free introduction to anti-money laundering (AML)."

Who this book is for:

Anti-Money Laundering offers a practical guide to navigate the maze of requirements needed to counter money laundering in an organization.

This book separates the different elements of AML practice, featuring a range of case studies and scenarios highlighting issues and best practices around the world. The text demonstrates that it is by foresight and methodology that AML can be mitigated, and provides clarity on complex points to better enable readers to gain the expertise they need to achieve success in practice.



3. The Panama Papers - Frederik Obermaier et al.



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"11.5 million documents sent through encrypted channels. The secret records of 214,000 offshore companies. The largest data leak in history.

In early 2015, an anonymous whistle-blower led investigative journalists Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier into the shadow economy where the super-rich hide billions of dollars in complex financial networks. Thus began the ground-breaking investigation that saw an international team of 400 journalists work in secret for a year to uncover cases involving heads of state, politicians, businessmen, big banks, the mafia, diamond miners, art dealers and celebrities. A real-life thriller, The Panama Papers is the gripping account of how the story of the century was exposed to the world."

Who this book is for:

From the winners of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.

The Panama Papers is one of those titles will captures the current zeitgeist. Reflecting the:

  • Increasing scrutiny over global elites
  • Scepticism over banking secrecy
  • A pivot towards tax transparency

The Panama Papers is perhaps the most revealing collection of accounts to shine a light on the misdeeds of others through this scandal.



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"Kleptopia follows the dirty money that is flooding the global economy, emboldening dictators and poisoning democracies. From the Kremlin to Beijing, Harare to Riyadh, Paris to the Trump White House, it shows how the thieves are uniting – and the terrible human cost.

A body in a burned-out Audi. Workers riddled with bullets in the Kazakh desert. A rigged election in Zimbabwe. A British banker silenced and humiliated for trying to expose the truth about the City of London – the world’s piggy bank for blood money.

Riveting, horrifying and written like fiction, this book shows that while we are looking the other way, all that we hold most dear is being stolen."

Who this book is for:

In this real-life thriller packed with jaw-dropping revelations, award-winning investigative journalist Tom Burgis reveals a terrifying global web of corruption.

‘If you think the UK isn't corrupt, you haven't looked hard enough … This new and terrifying book follows a global current of dirty money, and the murders and kidnappings required to sustain it’ George Monbiot, The Guardian.



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"Governments around the world have made the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism a priority.

Among its effort is the implementation of the Financial Action Task Force Recommendations, specifically Recommendation 1. The FATF Recommendations (Recommendation 1) requires that countries mandate financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs), to adopt a risk-based approach to combating money laundering and terrorist financing. "

 

Who this book is for:

This book aims to provide a clear understanding of what the risk-based approach involves. In addition to this, it differentiates the risk-based approach from the rule-based approach and determines if the risk–based approach interferes with the human rights of high-risk customers.

Internationally, this book would be the first comprehensive book on the subject of the Risk-Based Approach. This book would help financial institutions and designated non-financial institutions with any problem regarding the application of the risk-based approach.

Financial institutions/DNFBPs who implement the risk-based approach, in line with the guidance given in this book, will be well-placed to avoid the consequences of inappropriate de-risking behaviour.



The Financial Expert™ Best Money Laundering Book Challenge


Best money laundering books

I challenge you to read one book per month and see if it revolutionises your investing style!


The Financial Expert™ Best Money Laundering Book Challenge is a well-loved feature of this website.

It's an excuse to become a specialist at money laundering and anti-money laundering and terrorist financing topics. 

Expertise requires immersion, weaving together multiple perspectives, and hearing different opinions. 

Therefore I have creating this challenge to prompt you to absorb more money laundering insights from a multitude of different authors.

I challenge you to read one money laundering book per month for the next year, and find your new favourite!

That's a total of 12 money laundering titles. One per 30 days is hopefully not as overwhelming as other book reading challenges.

Some guidance

  • I found it helpful to stock up on books for the next few months, so that when a new month rolls around, my next book was my bed-side table asking to be opened!
  • Pick a variety of styles. This will keep the challenge fresh and increase the diversity of opinion. 
  • Pick at least one book that you don't think you would enjoy, this book might be the one that surprises you the most!
  • If you're time-starved, audio books are absolutely fine!

Where to begin?

My list of the 5 best money laundering books above is as good as any place to start, as I have consciously included a mix of different writing and investing styles to ensure that it caters to a wide audience.

Good luck!



What makes a great money laundering book?


Money laundering books
"The clampdown on money laundering and corruption is the common responsibility of all the countries in the world."
Wang Zhaowen, spokesman for the Bank of China

To recap the above, money laundering books come in three main varieties: 

  • Books about crime
  • Books about the global financial system
  • Books about anti-money laundering regulation

The books about money laundering as a crime are generally written for beginners.

This makes sense. The beginner to any genre will generally gravitate towards the books which are more eye-catching, have a shorter read length and read like a partisan or opinion piece.

Books about the global financial system are an offshoot from economics books and investment banking books. In other words, they're a specialist take on the shape our capitalist system has taken in response to incentives presented by organised crime. 

These books are usually still written with only moderate use of financial jargon, as an economist won't necessarily be familiar with legal and financial instrument jargon.

Books about anti-money laundering regulations are developed for finance professionals. Those in textbook format will likely still explain all acronyms, but the tone of the content will be highly technical. These guides are written as a more user-friendly companion to legislation, so while they won't use unnecessarily wordy language, they need to be precise. 

The best books about money laundering will attempt to move the debate forward, and propose practical solutions, including those which incorporate behavioural economics, which are elegant and effective.

In this way, each author can lend their expert voice and any empirical data they have collected on financial crime and the proceeds of crime, to help in the fight against money laundering. 

 



What is money laundering?

Money laundering is the process of converting 'dirty' money - money which is tainted and connected closely to crime, and converting it into 'clean' money, which is untraceable and will not implicate its owner when spending it. 

Money laundering got its name from the process by which organised crime would toss their bags of crisp stolen banknotes in a tumble-dryer, to add wear and tear to allow it to be spent in a discrete fashion without drawing attention to the spender. 

As the police services have improved their detection methods, money laundering methods have become more and more complex. Modern schemes can involve so many layers, steps and jurisdictions that they are difficult to conceive, never mind detect. 

Who are money laundering books written for? 

Money laundering is a vast subject, so the best money laundering books pick a target audience and relentlessly cater to it.

Money laundering books come in the following flavours:

1) Books about money laundering in general. These books fall into the true crime genre, allowing readers to learn about the exploits of organised criminals and their friends with accounting or legal backgrounds.

2) Books about money laundering in the global financial system. These titles become analyses and critiques of the existing state of legal and financial systems. These are helpful in understanding which countries have managed to build robust systems which hinder efforts to move illicit proceeds within the financial & property sectors. 

3) Books about money laundering compliance. For finance professionals, money laundering regulations have resulted in a large piece of compliance work which must be completed for all new customers and carried out on an ongoing basis. These books help to guide a finance employee or principal through this web of red-tape.

It will come as little surprise to discover that no publisher would publish a book about how to commit money laundering!