Definition of hawala in US English:



  • A system or agency for transferring money traditionally used in the Muslim world, whereby the money is paid to an agent who then instructs a remote associate to pay the final recipient.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’


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