Money laundering is commonly classified as a white-collar crime; although, it can be connected to criminal acts that fall into the violent crime, property crime, and narcotics trafficking categories. Money laundering allegations involve accusations that money was stolen or unlawfully obtained, and has been filtered through legitimate business enterprises, a foreign bank account, and/or other means to make the funds appear as though they are from a legitimate source.
Anyone who is being investigated for or charged with money laundering in federal court in Maryland should consider consulting with an aggressive Maryland federal money laundering lawyer.
Money laundering is a financial scheme that ranges from simple deposits into legitimate businesses bank accounts to complex processes that can involve a number of different financial transactions, multiple US bank accounts, or large deposits into offshore banks in countries whose laws protect depositors from having their money seized by the US government. With today’s technology, evidence trails in money laundering cases may not only be more complex, but also difficult for the federal government to uncover because so many financial transactions are performed anonymously and over the Internet.
One objective of laundering money is to prevent the “dirty money” from being seized or taxed by the federal government. Those who launder money usually seek to elude being prosecuted for related crimes, such as unlawful narcotics trafficking, computer and credit card fraud, or embezzlement. Those involved in large scale embezzlement or enterprise related criminal activity deal in large amounts of cash and thus need a safe place to hide their money.
Often, profits are too large to hide in unsecure locations and the perpetrators are unable to deposit the money in a legitimate domestic bank account without drawing the attention of law enforcement. For example federal law, 31 U.S.C Section 5311 et seq., which is also known as the Bank Secrecy Act, requires that all deposits exceeding $10,000 are reported to the IRS.
“Follow the money” is the mantra of federal investigators and police when they investigate federal money laundering cases. Over the years, the means with which some people allegedly attempt to hide their money has become very sophisticated. Nonetheless, laundering ill-gotten gains can result in federal charges even if the alleged crime that created the influx of money is only a crime under state law.
Under the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 [18 U.S. Code Section 1956], it is unlawful to commit the following acts:
Banks are especially sensitive to money laundering and are often the gatekeepers that first sound the alarm when such a crime is suspected given their reporting requirements under the Federal Bank Secrecy Act and other related federal laws and regulations. Executives and employees who work at a bank or other financial institution are also subject to money laundering investigations at any time. If the government believes a deposit is the proceeds of alleged criminal activity and the bank’s employees accepted the funds without making the required notifications the bank will be subject to penalties.
Some of the parallel offenses often associated with money laundering include, but are not limited to:
In addition to the FBI and IRS, a myriad of federal law enforcement and administrative agencies could be involved in money laundering investigations. These organizations include:
Anyone convicted of money laundering can face a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a fine up to $500,000, and/or twice the value of the funds involved. If money is laundered in connection with terrorist activity, the maximum sentence can be as much as 35 years. (See 18 U.S.C. Section 1956(a)(1).)
Those convicted of knowingly facilitating or attempting to facilitate an illegal monetary transaction of $10,000 or more, stemming from an illegal criminal activity, face a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. (See U.S.C. Section 1957.)
In addition to the above penalties, banks and financial institutions who knowingly participate in money laundering schemes can lose not only the assets associated with the crime, but could also be subject to fines, which can exceed the amount of money that was allegedly laundered. The federal money laundering statutes allow the government to garnish all proceeds of any bank, savings and loan institution, credit union, investment fund, or retirement fund that participates in unlawful money laundering activities.
Anyone being investigated for or charged with these federal offenses in Maryland should consider contacting a Maryland federal money laundering attorney immediately to ensure their rights are protected.