Though they are motivated by crime prevention, most measures to prevent money
laundering carry a direct price to financial privacy.
Most money laundering laws require the owners of money to be identified.
Sometimes, they require people to prove that money comes from legitimate sources.
The administrative burdens of this are suffered, and the expenses paid, by everyone
who uses the banking system. This prevents anonymity and puts reams of data
about customer banking activity in the hands of financial institutions and,
ultimately, regulators and government investigators.
The growth in money laundering laws and investigations represents a shift from
trying to address crime directly to trying to address crime by tracking its instruments
and fruits. Both of these are poor substitutes for attacking crime head-on. Among
other things, they compromise the privacy of innocent, law-abiding people right along
with the criminals.
Switzerland Opens Up a Pandora's Box by Peter Capella, The
Guardian (October 27, 2000)