Money laundering is a crime in most countries except for a few in Southeast Asia. Nonetheless, this crime has been ongoing for quite some time. The leading money launderers have also been involved in various other criminal activities. Most of these managed to acquire immense fame and fortune before they were either apprehended or faced the ultimate punishment in the form of death. 

Some of the names mentioned here include individuals who are hiding away from the law. Others have even been designated as terrorists. Although some came from humble backgrounds, they changed their lives purely because they were determined to achieve their objectives, but in the wrong way.

Let us consider some of the names that are popular even to this day. 

“Money laundering is a very sophisticated crime and we must be equally sophisticated.” — Janet Reno

Alphonse Capone 

Alfonse Capone or Al Capone as he is popularly known had achieved fame long before the release of “The Untouchables.” At his time, Al Capone was the most famous individual in America. He created a criminal organization in the 1920s and grossed an estimated $100 million annually.

 Al Capone managed to launder all this through a network of businesses. Moreover, he was involved in activities such as bootlegging, gambling and prostitution. He was eventually incarcerated in Alcatraz during the 1930s for an offense related to tax evasion. Al Capone laundered approximately $1 billion and served just seven years for his numerous crimes.

Sani Abacha 

Sani Abacha was the president of Nigeria during the early 1990s. Along with his family, he managed to siphon $3 billion of the country’s wealth. The Transparency International reported Abacha as the fourth most corrupt leader in history. Abacha passed away in 1998 at the age of 54.  His final remains were buried without even an autopsy, which fueled rumors that he may have been poisoned. Abacha did not receive punishment for his crime.

Semion Yudkovich Mogilevich 

Semion was born in Ukraine. Federal law enforcement agencies within the United States and Europe believe that he is the leader of most Russian Mafia syndicates in the world. He also carries the name of “The Brainy Don” due to his business acumen. Often, people have referred to Semion as one of the most dangerous mobsters in the world. 

Simeon was apprehended in Moscow Russia in 2008 for the offense of tax evasion. However, he was freed within a year. The Interior Ministry of Russia has stated that the charges against him were not grave. Semion is presently on the most-wanted list of FBI and is reputed to have laundered more than $1 billion. Apart from the minor incarceration he faced in 2008, Semion has not been punished for any offense. 

Ferdinand Marcos 

Ferdinand Marcos was the president of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. He was later overthrown by Corazon Aquino in a popular People’s revolt. Transparency International lists Marcos as the second most corrupt leader. Marcos is estimated to have laundered $5-$10 billion. Marcos passed away in 1989 from a heart attack while awaiting trial.

Pablo Escobar 

Pablo Escobar holds the position of being the richest and the most successful criminal in the history throughout the world. The Forbes magazine had also considered his wealth by stating that he had a personal fortune of approximately $9 billion.

Together with his brother, he managed a Colombian cartel that at one time was spending $1000 every week to merely purchase rubber bands to wrap large stacks of cash. They also had tons of money, which they couldn’t deposit in banks. Therefore, they used their warehouses for money storage. As if that is not enough, they could write off 10% of the money annually as spoilage. Pablo Escobar reportedly laundered five to $10 billion before he was finally shot to death. 

And as an addition…

The name of President Suharto—a former Indonesian president—and Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar— a son of a police Constable— also feature in this list. Suharto was considered too old to be brought to trial. On the other hand, Dawood Ibrahim managed to flee India just before the serial blasts in 1993. The blasts killed 290 people and is presently designated as a global terrorist by America. These two individuals laundered approximately $40 billion, for which they have not served any sentences. 


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