Addressing the Elephant in the Room: Money Laundering in the Construction Sector

This seminar will be hosted by the Centre for Business Law and Practice.


Money laundering is a pervasive phenomenon in various sectors of the economy, from banking to the art market, from real estate to luxury goods. National authorities have implemented new legislation to strengthen anti-money laundering (AML) regimes and prevent criminals from entering key markets. However, not all sectors have received the same attention by AML agencies, leaving room for criminals to exploit these deficiencies. When looking at the integration of money laundering in legitimate businesses, the construction sector emerges as one of the most critical for the infiltration of criminals. However, the literature on the topic is scattered across disciplines and epistemological communities with a limited interest from AML scholars.

This paper addresses the topic by presenting relevant findings on the literature on money laundering in the construction sector. The aim is threefold: (i) to identify money laundering schemes; (ii) to ascertain key money laundering risks; and (iii) to point out some future research themes. This interdisciplinary research employs a systematic literature review considering various disciplines, including law, criminology, and project management. This paper highlights the gaps in the literature, and it advances a research agenda to address this critical topic for future legislative and policy actions.

Speaker biographies:

Dr Ilaria Zavoli – Lecturer in Law, School of Law – University of Leeds (UK)

Dr Ilaria Zavoli is a Lecturer in Law at the School of Law of the University of Leeds and a qualified lawyer in Italy. Ilaria has a Law Degree cum laude and a Postgraduate Specialization Diploma in Law cum laude from the University of Bologna (Italy). She also has an Advanced Master in Public International Law with a specialization in International Criminal Law from Leiden University (The Netherlands). In 2019, Ilaria completed her PhD in International Criminal Law at the University of Leeds. While finishing her PhD, Ilaria also worked as Research Fellow for a British Academy funded project at the School of Law, Sociology and Politics of the University of Sussex. The project was about money laundering in the UK real estate market. Ilaria’s research interests lie in the areas of International Criminal Law, International Law, and Criminal Law. She is the author of various publications on money laundering in the UK and other jurisdictions, looking at the phenomenon in different sectors, including real estate, cryptocurrencies, and construction.

Dr Tristano Sainati - Lecturer in Project management, School of Civil Engineering - University of Leeds (UK)

Tristano is lecturer in project management at the school of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds. Tristano’s background is in industrial engineering, a master in financing major infrastructures, the second degree in English common law and a university diploma in international nuclear law, PhD on the governance of project financing and public-private partnerships for infrastructure megaprojects. Tristano’s research concerns the legal and financial aspects of large infrastructure projects, including g procurement, contracting, governance, cost estimation and anti-money laundering. Tristano is primarily concerned about infrastructures in the field of sanitation, oil & gas and nuclear.

Professor Giorgio Locatelli - Chair in Project Business Strategy, School of Civil Engineering - University of Leeds (UK)

Educated at Politecnico di Milano (Italy), Prof Locatelli has a Bachelor and Master in mechanical engineering (2006) and a PhD “Cum Laude” in Industrial engineering, economics, and management (2011). His research is about project management in large and complex infrastructure focusing on benchmarking, cost-benefit analysis, risk management, decommissioning, ethics & illegal practices, governance, financing, modularization. He attracted more than £1,000,000 of research funds. He works as a consultant and visiting academic for several institutions, including the IAEA, Argonne National Laboratories, the UK government etc. He is the author of more than 100 international peer-reviewed publications, with 1700+ citations in Scopus (h-Index 23). He sits in the editorial board of the three most prestigious project management journals: the “International Journal of Project Management”, the “Project Management Journal” (where is a senior editor) and “Construction Management and Economics.”

This one-hour event will be moderated by Professor Andrew Campbell, University of Leeds.

Joining details

Joining instructions will be sent 24 hours before the event via email once you have registered.

All welcome. This is a free event, though registration is required via Eventbrite.