Definition of hawala in English:



mass noun
  • A traditional system of transferring money used in Arab countries and South Asia, whereby the money is paid to an agent who then instructs an associate in the relevant country or area to pay the final recipient.

    • ‘To move large sums of money, they can avoid the banking system by using hawala money movers or couriers.’
    • ‘U.S. aid and a crackdown on invisible hawala money transfers lifted Pakistan's economy.’
    • ‘In the hawala system, which requires complete trust, a money broker collects funds at one end of the operation in a country, while another broker in another country, often from the same clan, distributes the funds at the other end.’
    • ‘Money laundering in the Indian Ocean basin relies upon a traditional alternative banking system known as hawala or hundi, which makes it difficult to trace money transfers.’
    • ‘Many schemes - including the hawala money-transfer networks in South Asia and the Mideast - use unrelated accounts in different countries, making them hard to shut down.’


From Arabic ḥawāla, literally ‘assignment, bill of exchange’.