Commonly used TBML Techniques

This article discuss some of the commonly used techniques of trade based money laundering

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CA Mayur Joshi
CA Mayur Joshi
CA Mayur Joshi is a Forensic Accounting evangelist in India. He is the co-founder of Indiaforensic and is author of 7 books on forensic accounting, fraud investigations and money laundering.

TBML techniques are becoming popular as an alternative remittance system that allows to move the proceeds of illegal activities disguised as legitimate trade. Trade provides ample opportunities to earn money over the illegal capital introduced in the business.

What is TBML ?

Trade Based Money Laundering (TBML) is a technique of disguising the origin of the money with the help of complex trade transactions. This is typically achieved by under invoicing of the imports and over invoicing of the exports or vice versa. 

Certified TBML Expert course offered by Indiaforensic Center of Studies is one of the few courses that address the global issue of the money laundering where international trade is used in favor of the launderers.

Common TBML Techniques

One of the popular methods of Trade Based money laundering is used cars. These can be purchased in cash in the international trade at the integration stage. Additionally, the trade of diamonds is also considered to be susceptible to trade based laundering because of pricing technicalities. This article quickly takes the inventory of some of the commonly used techniques in TBML. 


Over and under invoicing of goods and services is one of the common TBML techniques. This technique is used since ages in the trade, depending on the objective of the laundering party. In some Asian countries the imported goods are never received in the country but the money is sent out. These are typically termed as the phantom shipments. This technique is trending in Trade laundering since last few decades.

Split invoicing

Single trade gets invoiced at multiple levels or multiple invoicing on single consignment of goods and services is another popular technique. This may be done when the party wants to send out more money against the single shipment received and billed multiple times.

Quantity manipulation

In certain cases it is observed that instead of manipulating the prices, which are comparatively difficult to tamper, launderer plays around with the quantities and weights of the shipments.

Besides these techniques some other popular techniques include the Over and under shipment of goods and services, mis-description of the goods such as raw diamonds become polished diamonds.

In certain cases there is mis-declaration of exported goods, when the scrap is exported in the containers bills are created for export of steel or metal. Since there is no global regulator for the trade, there can not be any control over trade based money laundering techniques as the value of trade is determined by the agreement between two parties. Hence trade based money laundering is becoming one of the major challenges for the financial institutions.

Certified TBML Expert program offered by Indiaforensic discuss many such techniques in its certification course offered in video learning format. This is a professional certification course designed for the Trade finance professionals.   

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