There are several crimes that people fail to understand the details of, and money laundering is one of them. Money laundering charges are something that most people are not exposed to because of the very specific nature of the allegation. In this blog, we will talk about money laundering, what is it and what the legal implications are of that charge.
What is money laundering?
Money laundering is the act of taking money that has been gained from one activity and disguising the source of funds to make it seem like it came about from another activity.
Huh? What does that mean?
It is actually pretty simple……it would be very easy for law enforcement to prove criminal activity if they could simply show that someone got money from criminal activity.
What is the purpose of money laundering?
A high-level drug dealer can make a large amount of money. If that person does not have a legitimate job, it would be very easy to become suspicious if he or she has a house, car, and property under their name. Money laundering allows an individual in this situation to make his money seem legitimate.
Though drug sales are a common example, this would apply to any criminal activity that makes money.
How is money laundering accomplished?
There are several methods of money laundering, but for the purposes of this blog we will just give a very general example of how this is often accomplished.
Someone is making a large amount of money, that money needs to be “cleaned” so that it can be spent on legitimate things, without arousing suspicion. That person can start a business or partner with a business to make that money seem legitimate.
Fake receipts/invoices are made that make the illegally obtained money seem like it came from a series of clients and customers. From that revenue, the “business” is free to do normal things with that money such as provide paychecks to employees or distribute profits to owners. So, in this example, the “criminal” puts his cash into a business, the cash seems like it’s coming in from customers, and in turn he can get legitimate pay checks, or can show legitimate business profits.
Money laundering as a federal crime
On the federal level, money laundering is covered under 18 U.S. Code 1956. Under this law, money laundering must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the federal government by showing:
A person is guilty of money laundering if that person:
- Knows that property involved in a financial transaction represents proceeds of some form of illegal activity, conduct, or attempt at conduct such a financial transaction which in fact involves the proceeds of specified unlawful activity
- With the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity; or
- With the intent to engage in conduct constituting a violation of section 7201 or 7206 of the Internal revenue code of 1986; or
- Knowing that the transaction is designed in whole or in part
- To conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or the control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity; or
- To avoid a transaction reporting requirement under State or Federal law.
Money laundering follows the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, and can include a fine $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved, and up to 20 years in prison.
If you or a loved one have been charged with money laundering or any other federal crime, contact us. At Gilles law, we handle federal criminal defense in North Carolina as well as federal criminal defense in South Carolina.