Money laundering refers to a financial transaction scheme that aims to conceal the identity, source, and destination of illegally-obtained money. To prove money laundering, the government must prove five elements: that the defendant (1) engaged or attempted to engage, (2) in a monetary transaction, (3) in criminally derived property, (4) knowing that the property is derived from unlawful activity, and (5) that the property is, in fact, derived from specified unlawful activity.
Different statutes define various offenses based on the laundering of monetary instruments. 18 USC § 1956(a)(l)(A)(i), for instance, prohibits conducting a financial transaction with property one knows represents the proceeds of some form of a specified unlawful activity with the intent to promote the carrying on of that specified unlawful activity. Sections 1956(a)(l)(B)(i) & (ii) prohibit engaging in a financial transaction knowing that the transaction is designed in whole or in part to conceal or disguise the location, source, ownership, or control of the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity, or to avoid financial reporting requirements under state or federal law. Both of these crimes are punishable by a fine of not more than$500,000.00, or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, and/or imprisonment up to twenty years. Section 1956(a)(2) punishes the transportation, transmission or transfer of monetary instruments into or out of the United States with the intent to promote the carrying on of a specified unlawful activity or knowing that the conduct is designed in whole or in part to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership or control of the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity or to avoid reporting requirements under state or federal law. The statute further provides that defendant’s knowledge may be established by proof that a law enforcement officer represented the necessary facts as true and the defendant’s subsequent statements or actions indicated that he believed the representations to be true. This offense is also punishable by a fine of not more than$500,000.00, or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, and/or imprisonment up to twenty years.
Money laundering can take several forms, although most methods can be categorized into one of the following:
• Structuring: this is where cash is broken into smaller deposits of money, used to defeat suspicion of money laundering and to avoid anti-money laundering reporting requirements.
• Bulk cash smuggling: this involves physically smuggling cash to another jurisdiction and depositing it in a financial institution, such as an offshore bank which provides for greater secrecy and lax enforcement.
• Cash-intensive businesses: in this method, a business typically expected to receive a large proportion of its revenue as cash uses its accounts to deposit cash derived from illegal activity. Such enterprises usually claim all cash received as legitimate earnings.
• Trade-based laundering: this involves under or overvaluing invoices to disguise the movement of money.
• Shell companies and trusts: where trusts and shell companies disguise the true owner of money.
• Round-tripping: where money is deposited in a foreign corporation offshore and then shipped back as a foreign direct investment, exempt from taxation.
• Bank capture: in this case, money launderers buy a controlling interest in a bank and then move money through the bank without scrutiny.
• Casinos: with this, an individual walks into a casino and buys chips with cash obtained from illegal activity, play for a short period of time, and then cash out claiming the winnings as gambling winnings.
Brent Mayr, Paul Schiffer, and Richard Esper all have extensive experience and a proven track record of success representing individuals charged with money laundering. If you or a loved one are under investigation for or charged with a money laundering offense, contact Brent Mayr, Paul Schiffer, or Richard Esper at 855-NT-GILTY (855-684-4589) to speak with them personally regarding your case.