Money laundering and piracy: the legal nexus

Gikonyo, Constance V.W.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Money laundering is the process by which ‘dirty’ money is transmitted through a financial system to ‘clean’ and legitimise it. The intention is to conceal the proceeds of crime from any asset forfeiture laws. The result is negative effects including: apparently inexplicable changes in money supply and demand; increased prudential risks to the safety and soundness of the banking sector; contaminating effects on legal financial transactions, and increased volatility of international capital flows and exchange rates. Maritime piracy is also a major crime. It is defined as any illegal act(s) of violence, detention or depredation, committed for private ends on the high seas against another ship or aircraft, and likewise has unfavourable effects. These include posing a threat to the shipping industry, negative impacts on both international trade and global security. Since the end of the Golden Age of piracy, in the eighteenth century, the crime had not attracted worldwide scrutiny. However, attention has been drawn back to it due to increased piracy incidents worldwide. Furthermore it is now considered to be contributing to money laundering This study considers how to tackle piracy, specifically piracy for ransoms, from an anti-money laundering perspective. A review of how the current piracy laws have hindered holding pirates accountable, necessitates and leads to consideration of an alternative approach. Hence, by focusing on the funds that are generated through the payment of ransoms, a theoretical link between piracy and money laundering is established. This further justifies the utilisation of anti-money laundering laws to confiscate piracy benefits. This removes incentives for piracy, thus indirectly dissuading pirates from engaging in the crime. To address the issue practically, it is examined if Kenya has an adequate and effective anti-money laundering regime to facilitate monitoring, reporting, investigation and prosecution of those implicated of dealing in proceeds of Somalian piracy. Ultimately, the research offers a workable anti-money laundering mechanism that can be implemented to deal with piracy for ransoms. In addition to pointing out weakness and possible solutions in the Kenyan anti-money laundering regime in general.
A thesis submitted to the School of Law, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Johannesburg 2018
Gikonyo, Constance Veronica Wangeci (2016) Money laundering and piracy :the legal nexus, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <>