Although considered a white-collar crime, the government takes money laundering very seriously.
While many people may think of schemes in movies, if you have deposited a large amount of cash or made a real estate purchase with cash, you may come onto the government’s radar.
1. What do the courts consider money laundering?
In general, the courts consider money laundering the process of taking illegally obtained money and cleaning it by depositing it into a business or bank. While the laundering process varies, it typically involves placing money into a legitimate operation, concealing the money’s source via different bookkeeping methods or transactions, and integrating it into the system for withdrawal.
2. How do investigators prove money laundering?
Prior to getting charged, investigators must have clear proof on varying levels. First, the person accused must have purposely concealed where the funds came from. Along with having knowledge of illegally obtained funds, the prosecution must prove the intent of the charged to commit fraud and unlawful activity, such as avoiding federal or state transaction reporting laws or participating in tax evasion. Additionally, the evidence must show that the accused concluded or initiated the suspicious financial transaction.
3. What potential consequences come with a conviction?
While charges come with state laws, many money laundering cases also come with federal charges. The violation of federal statute 18 U.S.C. §1956, considered the laundering of monetary instruments, comes with a potential 20-year prison sentence. Financially, a person convicted will have to pay fines and restitution to the victim. The lesser charge of violating 18 U.S.C. §1957, often associated with property transactions, means serving up to 10 years in prison.
Whether under investigation or you recently received formal charges, you may have more options available than you think.