Money laundering, in a nutshell, is the smuggling of illegally acquired money (e.g., bribes, money received from the sale of illegal drugs) and other assets into the legal financial and economic circuit with the intention of concealing the true origin of the funds.  Frequently, money laundering operations are well disguised in sophisticated multistep transactions, making them difficult to distinguish from other day-to-day transactions and thus difficult to detect.  In many cases such transactions take place across borders.  To effectively combat money laundering, authorities increasingly make use of the support of individuals and companies.

German law distinguishes between preventive and repressive anti-money laundering rules.

The German Anti-Money Laundering Act requires certain enumerated groups of professionals to actively engage in preventive measures to support the detection of (attempted) money laundering in the context of their professional activity.  Committing money laundering and aiding and abetting money laundering are criminal offenses under the German Criminal Code that applies to any individual within its reach.

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