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Money Laundering Basics

In 1986 Congress legislated the Money Laundering Control Act (MLCA). This legislation makes the laundering of money a federal crime. Under the MLCA, money laundering occurs when funds generated through illegal activities are made to appear legal by introducing the funds into the legitimate financial system, transferring funds between numerous accounts, and making legitimate transactions with those funds all for the purposes of evading detection, prosecution, seizure and/or taxation by the government. Crimes related to money laundering can result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of $500,000 or twice the amount of money laundered.

Defenses to Money Laundering

Post-September 11th, 2001, the United States’ government has focused on anti-terrorism. Because money laundering sometimes plays a role in terrorist acts, more charges are being brought and convictions are occurring more quickly. Federal officials are ramping up the government’s effort to track and close down money laundering operations. In fact, California had as many as 1,000 federal officials search and raid local Los Angeles’s Fashion District businesses suspected of laundering drug funds. Money laundering charges can be brought in different ways and may include illegal wire transfers, alleged violations of the Patriot Act and ?or financial transactions that involve profits from an illegal activity.

Believe it or not, money laundering is not strictly associated with proceeds from drug sales. These charges may be associated with illegal funds obtained through mortgage fraud, business fraud, real estate fraud or other white-collar crimes. Similarly money laundering may be associated with embezzlement and fraud.

Possible Defenses

Because money laundering is a “specific intent” crime, the prosecutor must prove the defendant’s state of mind as an element of the charge.  Because of this fact, common defenses to money laundering include:

  • Insufficient evidence – if there is not enough evidence to prosecute, a criminal charge may be dismissed. Money laundering requires the government to prove there was intent to prevent the illegally obtained funds from being traced to its origin and the money laundered came from a specific illegal activity.
  • Absence of intent – if a defendant accused of money launder can prove they were unaware the money laundered was illegal, then the intent requirement is negated.
  • Duress – when a person is under duress, they believe a danger or harm exists to them should they not participate in the crime. If a participant of a money-laundering scheme is threatened, or their family is threatened, into committing the offense they may be found not guilty.

Contact a Skilled Money Laundering Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been accused of money laundering, contact an experienced and aggressive attorney at Goldman & Associates right away. Our legal professionals are familiar with the required level of analysis needed in a successful defense of a money laundering prosecution. Don’t try to fight this battle on your own. Call (773) 484-3131 today for your initial case evaluation.