The 2017 to 2019 uncovering of Russian money laundering of still-unknown billions of dollars through Danske Bank and Swedbank has contributed to a recent surge in interest in the problem on both sides of the Atlantic. Russian money laundering in the western financial system more than a few years ago remains largely ignored, however, and the resulting lack of knowledge limits understanding of the nature of the problem.

Looking back over a decade reveals that the current crisis in anti-money laundering (AML) is not new or unique; it is instead one cycle in a recurring loop, reminiscent of the plot...