From the outside, TBML looks like normal international trade. Company A enters into a contract with a foreign Company B involving, for example, medical equipment. It’s impossible to simply pay for the goods by transferring the money from one bank account to another: a bank has to receive documents
for customs currency controls from the buyer – company A. The money can only be transferred to the account of company B after the bank verifies the authenticity of the documents and approves the payment. By this time, the goods will have already been shipped to the buyer.
However, if TBML takes place, companies A and B are in collusion, or they can even belong to the same person or organization. The data in customs declarations will be distorted, and goods will never really cross the border. Meanwhile, the laundered money, disguised as payment for the goods, will be sent to the perpetrators’ bank account in another country, where it will be spent to buy a villa, a yacht, or a Claude Monet painting.
Money laundering can be disguised as trading any kind of goods. According to FATF, however, it’s mostly used in the schemes involving: