Purpose: This paper aims to study the role of money laundering in the system of modern crime. Design/methodology/approach: The methodology of this research will include the study of quite obvious relationships, which in themselves do not need special substantiation today, namely, money laundering and terrorism; money laundering and corruption; money laundering and organized crime. Findings: The following methods are used in the research process: studying the sentences of the courts of the Russian Federation related to the conviction of persons for money laundering; analysis of national judicial statistics and statistics of international organizations related to money laundering; a survey of 96 experts (law enforcement officers, scientists specializing in the study of combating money laundering, government officials whose powers include activities to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism). Originality/value: Based on the results of the study, a number of conclusions were made. In particular, at present, in view of the built-up effective system of measures to control the income received as a result of certain types of criminal activity (corruption crime, organized crime, economic crime), money laundering has taken a leading role in the structure of modern crime. © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited.