$3.1T in illicit funds flowed through the global financial system in 2023 — Nasdaq

Stock exchange company Nasdaq released its “Global Financial Crime Report,” highlighting data related to financial crime over the past year. Bitcoin (BTC) and crypto were not mentioned, bolstering the belief for many that cash (fiat currency) is king when it comes to facilitating crimes.

The report highlighted that financial crime continues to be a “multi-trillion-dollar problem.” Nasdaq estimated that in 2023, around $3.1 trillion in illicit funds flowed through the global financial system. Through money laundering, the funds fueled crimes like human and drug trafficking and terrorist financing. 

$3.1T in illicit funds flowed through the global financial system in 2023 — Nasdaq
Illicit financial transaction volume across different regions. Source: Nasdaq 

Within the trillions of dollars of illicit funds, Nasdaq found that $782.9 billion was involved in drug trafficking activities, while $346.7 billion was linked to human trafficking. Furthermore, the report highlighted that around $11.5 billion was used for terrorist financing. Apart from these, $485.6 billion was lost to fraud scams and bank fraud schemes in 2023. 

Within the report, Nasdaq chair and CEO Adena Friedman said that financial institutions have “been at the forefront of this issue for decades.” The CEO wrote that the institutions continue to engage in the fight to prevent fraud. Friedman said financial institutions are responding to the pressure to prevent fraud but cannot do it alone. Friedman explained: 

“Ultimately, we know that no single company, industry, technology, or government is going to solve the complex problem of financial crime alone. We all have a responsibility — to ourselves and to the world — to be part of the solution.”

In a statement sent to Cointelegraph, Tether CEO Paolo Ardoino described the multitrillion-dollar financial crime issue as incredibly alarming. The executive echoed the sentiment that no single company can solve the issue and said that “only through multilateral cooperation will we succeed in stopping these illicit activities.”

According to Ardoino, Tether continues to collaborate with law enforcement agencies across the globe to freeze addresses and wallets involved with criminal activities, and he called on legacy institutions to do the same.

“Tether is committed to continuing our cooperative approach with law enforcement to halt destructive financial crimes, and we echo the calls in this Nasdaq report for legacy financial institutions to do their part as Tether is doing,” Ardoino wrote. 

Related: Crypto hack losses declined 51% in 2023: Report

On Jan. 18, a report published by blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis highlighted that within the crypto space, stablecoins have been the “cryptocurrency of choice” among criminals in 2022 and 2023. The illicit transaction volume of stablecoins surpassed that of Bitcoin, Ether (ETH) and other altcoins. 

Meanwhile, Gabor Gurbacs, the director of Digital Assets Strategy at investment firm VanEck, highlighted in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that there was no mention of BTC, crypto or stablecoins in the Nasdaq report. The executive pointed toward banks and institutions and said they are the “main conduit” for criminal activities.

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