How does money laundering work?

As Paul Manafort heads off to federal prison for 7 1/2 years for an array of crimes — including tax evasion and the laundering of illicit gains from his pro-Russia political consulting work — it’s worth revisiting just what money laundering is.

The ability to move money into and around the U.S. and Europe is an essential component of Russia’s recent interference activities, which include supporting environmental protests against pipelines and trolling public debates on divisive issues. Better that these activities appear to be “organic” than directed and carried out by the Kremlin’s intelligence apparatus.

Not only that, the Russian oligarchs and Putin cronies who operate corrupt enterprises need a way to stash their cash, preferably with the stability that Western banks and institutions provide.

Investigators worldwide are working to identify and stop all the ways that Russian criminals are trying to beat the system — and having some success. But much remains unknown, including how much Russia may be injecting into foundations, associations, and other nonprofits. Already there are indications that Russian money was bankrolling both the NRA (on the right) and environmental nonprofits (on the left). This follows the typical Russian playbook of playing both sides to sow chaos.

Read more from Business Insider on how criminals attempt to disguise the proceeds of illegal activity. It won’t be the last we hear about Russian money laundering!