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Money Mules and Tumblers

Money Laundering During the Cryptocurrency Era

Sofia Del Monaco    Università Ca' Foscari Venezia, Italia    



Money laundering activities related to the cryptocurrency market have seen an exponential increase over the last fifteen years as a consequence of technological developments and economic distresses, as the 2008 crisis and the 2020 pandemic. This essay will analyse the European Union legislation created in order to tackle this phenomenon, dwelling on the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive and its similarities among international laws. In particular, it will be displayed the importance of intermediaries, such as money mules and mixing services, to ease money laundering and increase the anonymity. In this framework, the European Union finds itself almost powerless: the legality of the virtual currency source is assessed only when entering and exiting in the virtual market and not during in-market transactions as well as a complete lack of legislation on mixing services activities. Therefore, how can the European Union steam the misuse of such intermediaries with ex-ante and ex-post interventions? And, finally, are the European privacy policies so important to outrank the risk related to money laundering activities? This paper shows that one way to prevent cryptocurrency money laundering pullulation is launching sensitization and awareness programmes since young age through educational institutions and, most importantly, a narrower legislation is required, implementing those laws that proved to be effective in other countries, in defiance of privacy policies.

21 Dicembre 2020
16 Gennaio 2022

Keywords: Money laundering5th Anti-Money Laundering DirectiveVirtual CurrencyEMMADark WebMixing serviceMoney mule

Copyright: © 2020 Sofia Del Monaco. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.