What is buddhist point of view on money laundering and combating it (AML)? Are there any suttas that can be related to this topic?

  • hey, i am not an expert in Vinaya (rules for Buddhist monks), but i bet there is something about money laundry there. Buddha was very careful and put more details for monks. There is code about Tax Evasion. I remember vaguely about a merchant asking a monk to carry a precious stone thru a custom post to avoid paying tax..etc. hopefully someone who is an expert in Vinaya can remember something (if there is one).
    – user5056
    Nov 8, 2017 at 15:43
  • Broadly, any form of thievery or deception is wrong. But the answer cannot be found in the Vinaya (maybe in the suttas, though). Because monks cannot even touch money and for the lay people, On the other hand, the Vinaya does not apply.
    – Gotamist
    Nov 10, 2017 at 3:13

3 Answers 3


Buddhism has no view, but in regard of the Buddha and to possible explain Dhamma, money laundering is usually part of an undertaking of thieving, e.g. taking of what is not given. As how far is one direct, indirect knowingly, indirect unknowingly... adapting an unskillful action (causes eighter birth in an animal womb, as hungy ghost, leads to hell or, if getting human existence, poorness), that is a case by case question.

Taking what is not given is unskilfull, incl. the 1001 ways, in also lying, cheating, betray...

As for "combating", it's worthy to read:

Wisdom over Justice and Justice vs. Skillfulness to get the Blessed Ones understanding and objectives best possible understood.

The Buddha teaches cause and effects and should be not understood as a judge for certain wordly objectives. Best, and if even that much possible, is to combating bad things within one self first.

If taking for example the Buddhas teaching to justify of what is not the Dhammas purpose: Such would be like money laundering. (by making Dhamma as impure so that it can be used outside of the religion, e.g. bond)

How ever, laundering ones view and action and to encourage to do it likewise is always the best engaging in laundering:

No way to clean another ones mind.

Cultivating skillful ways of thought

"And how is one made pure in three ways by mental action? There is the case where a certain person is not covetous. He does not covet the belongings of others, thinking, 'O, that what belongs to others would be mine!' He bears no ill will and is not corrupt in the resolves of his heart. [He thinks,] 'May these beings be free from animosity, free from oppression, free from trouble, and may they look after themselves with ease!' He has right view and is not warped in the way he sees things: 'There is what is given, what is offered, what is sacrificed. There are fruits & results of good & bad actions. There is this world & the next world. There is mother & father. There are spontaneously reborn beings; there are brahmans & contemplatives who, faring rightly & practicing rightly, proclaim this world & the next after having directly known & realized it for themselves.' This is how one is made pure in three ways by mental action."

AN 10.176

Followed by "Skillful Verbal Action" and "Skillful Bodily Action", eventually keeping then the Uposatha of the Ariyas.

[Note: This is a gift of Dhamma and not meant for commercial purpose or other low wordily gains by means of trade and exchange.]


Don't waste your time. Money laundering is all about greed and yet you're feeding the greed. When there's not much time left, you'll feel regretful about the time wasted.


These suttas may be vaguely related to the modern concept of money laundering:

From Vanijja Sutta, we find the following quotation. Money laundering is taking ill gotten gains (possibly from wrong types of businesses) and trying to make them legitimate.

"Monks, a lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five? Business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison.

"These are the five types of business that a lay follower should not engage in."

From Maha-cattarisaka Sutta:

"Of those, right view is the forerunner. And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong livelihood as wrong livelihood, and right livelihood as right livelihood. This is one's right view. And what is wrong livelihood? Scheming, persuading, hinting, belittling, & pursuing gain with gain. This is wrong livelihood.

From the Sigalovada Sutta, we find a quotation below that covers taking what is not given and lying, which could be related to money laundering.

"What four impure actions are abandoned? The harming of living beings is an impure action, taking what is not given is an impure action, sexual misconduct is an impure action, and false speech is an impure action. These four are abandoned."

From the Samannaphala Sutta:

"And how is a monk consummate in virtue? ... Abandoning the taking of what is not given, he abstains from taking what is not given. He takes only what is given, accepts only what is given, lives not by stealth but by means of a self that has become pure. This, too, is part of his virtue.

From the Mula Sutta, on the unskillfulness of greed:

"Greed itself is unskillful. Whatever a greedy person fabricates by means of body, speech, or intellect, that too is unskillful. Whatever suffering a greedy person — his mind overcome with greed, his mind consumed — wrongly inflicts on another person through beating or imprisonment or confiscation or placing blame or banishment, [with the thought,] 'I have power. I want power,' that too is unskillful. Thus it is that many evil, unskillful qualities/events — born of greed, caused by greed, originated through greed, conditioned by greed — come into play.

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