Understanding Money Crimes
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A DRUG KINGPIN TO BE PROSECUTED
If you thought for even a moment that banking crimes under the federal legislative scheme are complicated, you need only to visit the federal acts and the case law construing them to recognize that the offense of “Money Laundering” is far more difficult to understand and navigate.
Until the mid 1980s, “money laundering” was a phrase found chiefly in popular fiction. Its appearance in judicial opinions was rare, and its status as a colloquialism was marked by its enclosure in quotes (just as above.) In the course of two decades, federal prosecution for money laundering has become the “prosecution de jure.” This abrupt reversal began with the passage of the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, followed by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992. With the worldwide attack on offshore financial centers (also referred to as “tax havens”) in the early 90s through the use of money laundering prosecution as a weapon in the War on Terrorism since September 11, 2001, it has become more than fashionable to “follow the money.” The current version of The Patriot Act is but the most recent and most virulent form of federal invasion of your privacy. This is not the forum to discuss the philosophy of whether this is good or bad. As a matter of law it is enough to recognize that these laws are on the books, and that you risk prison of you violate them.
About Statutes 18 U.S.C., Sections 1956 and 1957
The two principal statutes used by federal prosecutors, are 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1956 and 1957. It is beyond the scope of these remarks to go through the distinctions between domestic and international money laundering, or the concepts of “promoting,” “commingling,” the temporal meaning of “proceeds.” or the role of criminal intent.
The basic elements of money laundering are:
- the Defendant conducted or attempted to conduct a financial transaction;
- the transaction involved property that represents proceeds from specified unlawful activity;
- the Defendant knew that the property involved in the transaction represented the proceeds of some sort of unlawful activity (but not that the defendant necessarily knew the actual nature of the activity);
And the Defendant had “scienter”– that is that the defendant had guilty knowledge of the transaction in one or more of the following ways:
- he intended to promote the specified illegal activities;
- he intended to evade taxes or prepare false returns or other tax related documents;
- he knew the transaction was designed to disguise or conceal the proceeds involved in the transaction; or
- he knew that the transaction is designed to avoid a state or federal reporting requirement.
Under some of the subsections, additional or different elements of the crime may include the use of a monetary instrument or specific funds, that the transaction took place across the US border, or transportation of currency or monetary transfer instruments. Most “money crimes” fall into these categories, although the much simpler (but equally serious) offenses of counterfeiting of currency and other financial instruments are also included here.
Contact A Money Crimes Attorney
Like in the federal banking violations arena, concepts of “structuring,” “promoting,” and of course conspiracy are also important considerations. This is a complex area of law, and if you find yourself in trouble, you will need an experienced Orlando federal criminal defense attorney at The Defense Group. Call 1-800-INNOCENT at once to schedule your initial Free Consultation. We can help!