Money laundering is when money is obtained from an illegal source and is then processed through a series of transfers before being placed in a legal institution, such as a bank. The many transactions make it difficult to find the origin of the money, such as drug sales.
The Federal Government has been very busy with trying to crack down on two types of companies they suspect as having a high risk of money laundering. They are the cannabis industry and companies in the bitcoin industry. The IRS does not know how to apply tax principles to virtual currency transactions, and cryptocurrency tax compliance questions can threaten one’s investments.
Money laundering is a serious crime that poses a risk to financial institutions, from small companies to global enterprises. Because criminals can run dirty “money” through complex banking transfers or commercial transactions, it can be very difficult to find a trail that leads investigators back to the original source.
The U.S. Money Laundering Control Act
This United States Act of Congress, passed in 1986, prohibits engaging in specified unlawful activities used in money laundering. The law requires that a criminal have the intention of concealing the source of the money or the original ownership in order to be culpable. The success of a transfer of money is not required to break the law. Merely attempting is prohibited by the Act. There is no minimum amount necessary in order to bring forth charges.
Types Of Money Laundering
Designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs) such as attorneys, notaries, accountants, and other independent legal professionals, prepare or carry out transactions for their clients. This puts them in a vulnerable situation where they have to trust and be trusted by their client when managing their clients’ money. Specific transactions include:
- When buying and selling property
- Managing securities, savings or bank accounts, or assets
- Buying and selling business entities
A money laundering charge is a shock to those who are accused of it, so it is important to hire an attorney who will lead you through the legal process and help you to understand your situation. You may be unaware of any linkages between people you’ve trusted and the crime or multiple crimes. Below are some examples of money laundering.
Money Laundering and Drug Trafficking Charges
You can face federal and state charges if you are suspected of being involved in drug trafficking. An issue that defendants face is having evidence that makes it appear as though they had a strong connection to it. If the evidence is strong enough to press charges, then the prosecutor is going to fight aggressively. That is why you need a money laundering defense attorney. An attorney will know how to proceed and what to do when you’ve been accused of involvement in drug trafficking.
An investigation into money laundering and drug trafficking charges starts when a law enforcement agency or officials are made aware of inconsistencies or other warning signs of trafficking. They will conduct an investigation, which is how they find the connection between the money and the drugs.
Small Businesses And Anti-Money Laundering
Small businesses may not be aware of what anti-money laundering statutes apply to them. You must file a Form 8300, Report of Cash Payments Over $10,000 Received in a Trade or Business if you have indeed received in excess of $10,000. If you don’t, then you are violating the law and may not be aware of it. The Internal Revenue Service is going to investigate thoroughly if they believe that your excess is due to drug trafficking or other money laundering crimes. Our experienced attorneys can help individuals and small business owners understand their charges and what next steps to take in the legal process.
Penalties and Enhanced Penalties for Federal Money Laundering
As is the case with most federal crimes, there are enhanced penalties that may be applied, depending on your circumstances. The following is an excerpt from the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines Manual, §2S1.1. Laundering of Monetary Instruments; Engaging in Monetary Transactions in Property Derived from Unlawful Activity:
Base Offense Level:
- The offense level for the underlying offense from which the laundered funds were derived, if (A) the defendant committed the underlying offense (or would be accountable for the underlying offense under subsection (a)(1)(A) of §1B1.3 (Relevant Conduct)); and (B) the offense level for that offense can be determined; or
- 8 plus the number of offense levels from the table in §2B1.1 (Theft, Property Destruction, and Fraud) corresponding to the value of the laundered funds, otherwise.
Specific Offense Characteristics
- If (A) subsection (a)(2) applies; and (B) the defendant knew or believed that any of the laundered funds were the proceeds of, or were intended to promote (i) an offense involving the manufacture, importation, or distribution of a controlled substance or a listed chemical; (ii) a crime of violence; or (iii) an offense involving firearms, explosives, national security, or the sexual exploitation of a minor, increase by 6 levels.
- (Apply the Greatest): (A) If the defendant was convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 1957, increase by 1 level. (B) If the defendant was convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 1956, increase by 2 levels. (C) If (i) subsection (a)(2) applies; and (ii) the defendant was in the business of laundering funds, increase by 4 levels. (3) If (A) subsection (b)(2)(B) applies; and (B) the offense involved sophisticated laundering, increase by 2 levels.
If you are charged with federal money laundering charges, contact the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj to discuss your case so that we can discuss any possible enhancements today.
Why You Need A Criminal Defense Attorney
Anti-money laundering laws are very complex, and it is possible to not even realize one has engaged in laundering. Individuals and small business owners can often find it difficult to navigate the intricate legal system. If you’re facing a federal money-laundering investigation, then call our law office today to speak to an attorney.