In order to legitimately defend against money laundering charges, a best-practice Chicago defense attorney must know a bit more about the subject than the education provided by the red-hot Netflix series “Ozark.” However, candidly, Ozark might present the subject in a much more entertaining manner that can be briefly described in this blog post – albeit probably in a much more deadly manner too.
As one authority has described it, “money laundering is commonly understood as the process of cleansing the taint from the proceeds of crime.”
Let’s begin with the starting point, the federal money laundering statutes.
18 United States Code, section 1956 makes various types of money laundering unlawful. That prohibited conduct includes what is referred to as “promotion,” “concealment,” “structuring,” and “tax evasion.”
In addition, 18 United States, Code, section 1957 makes unlawful the depositing or spending of certain proceeds from those “predicate” money laundering offenses. In addition, certain conduct associated with the money laundering offenses may trigger other federal criminal offenses. One of these is the federal offense of acting as an “unlicensed money transmitting business” without the appropriate authorization or registration to engage in such conduct, in violation of 18 U.S.C., section 1960.
In addition, various States also have their own forms of money laundering statutes.
Broadly speaking, money laundering under the federal money laundering statutes includes the following types of conduct:
- financial transactionsinvolving the proceeds of certain crimes in an attempt to concealthe nature, source, or ownership of the proceeds that those crimes produced;
- financial transactionsinvolving the proceeds from certain other crimes to attempt to promoteadditional offenses;
- the transportation offunds that were generated by underlying certain criminal activities to attempt to promoteother criminal activities, or to conceal the nature, source, or ownership of the criminal proceeds, or to evade reporting requirements;
- financial transactionsinvolving criminal proceeds to evade taxeson the income produced by the underlying illegal activity;
- the structuring of financial transactionsto evade financial reporting requirements;
- the spending of more than $10,000of proceeds from certain criminal activities;
- the travelingin, or use of the facilities of, interstate or foreign commerce to distributethe proceeds from certain underlying criminal activities;
- the travelingin, or use of the facilities of interstate or foreign commerce to promote certain underlying criminal activities;
- the transmission of the proceeds of, or funds to promote, criminal activity in the course of a money transmitting business;
- the transmission of fundsas part of an unlawful money transmitting business;
- the smugglingof unreported monies across the border;
- the failure to complywith the Treasury’s anti-money laundering provisions.
These offenses of course often involve complex transactions, and, in certain instances, non-complex transactions committed by those who are simply part of, and furthering, the money laundering chain.
Moreover, because the potential penalties can sometimes be draconian, the advice and assistance of counsel at the early stages, is paramount. The defense of these types of cases requires Federal (or State) criminal defense counsel who have a track record of success at trial, and who can understand the nuances of both the law and the client’s business/business practices.
Written by Michael Leonard. LeonardTrialLawyers