What is money laundering?
Money laundering is the process of taking cash received in transactions that are against the law (illicit drugs, embezzlement, fraud, black market sales of stolen goods, gambling, stolen property etc.) and moving that money into the financial system or marketplace where it can be spent with traceability. Money laundering involves taking illegal funds and moving the funds so that its true ownership is kept secret. A common example of money laundering involves a drug dealer who converts small bills into something bigger that he or she can use in the marketplace without suspicion. This is done by many different methods. Moving the money through various accounts, even between countries, as it is “cleaned” or “laundered.” Fake businesses may be used. Phony names may be created. Once the money is laundered, then the true owner of that money can use it to buy things like a house, cars, or large ticket items needed for future business (small planes, equipment, trucks, etc.).
Innovative ways to launder money are being created all the time; however, the federal government gives the following things they consider to be signs that someone is trying to move cash obtained in illegal operations into a legitimate market flow, or engaged in money laundering:
- Payments to vendor made in cash by unrelated 3rd parties
- Payments to vendor made via wire transfers by unrelated 3rd parties
- Payments to vendor made via checks, bank drafts or postal money orders from unrelated 3rd parties
- False reporting (misclassification, over/under valuation)
- Carousel transactions (the repeated importation & exportation of the same high-value commodity)
- Commodities being traded do not match the business involved
- Unusual shipping routes
- Packaging inconsistent with commodity or shipping method
Money Laundering Repercussions: Imprisonment & Restitution
laundering allegations usually end up with executive/corporate reputation damage which can taint and damage a career or brand that has taken years to achieve. It is critical for anyone suspicious that they may be facing a money laundering allegation to get an experienced criminal defense attorney on board as soon as possible. This includes any pre-trial criminal investigation of operations by federal or state authorities.
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