What is Money Laundering?
Money laundering is the practice of engaging in financial transactions to conceal the identity, source or destination of illegally gained money. It is a major crime in many states and countries.
U.S. Federal law is severe: “Whoever knowingly conducts or attempts to conduct a financial transaction which in fact involves the proceeds of specified unlawful activity with the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity shall be sentenced to a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both.”
In the past, money laundering only applied to organized crime. Today, it has been expanded to include private individuals, drug dealers, businesses, corrupt officials and even states. It has become very complex with modern technology and now “Financial Intelligence” (FININT) is being used to combat it.
History of Money Laundering
Money laundering began in China thousands of years ago. Merchants would hide their wealth from rulers or move it and invest it in businesses in remote provinces or outside China.
Over the centuries, the techniques of money laundering changed but the principles did not. Criminals came into the picture. Money laundering exploded in the United States during the 1920’s, when the prohibition allowed people to make huge sums of money by breaking the law. It created a problem about what to do with all the cash. Opening a legitimate business was a good solution. Laundries were popular businesses to put this money into back then, and that is how the term “money laundering” was coined.
In 1970, the Bank Secrecy Act was passed requiring banks to report cash transactions of $10,000 or more. The Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 further defined money laundering as a federal crime. The Patriot Act of 2001 expanded the laws to include terrorist financing.
Money Laundering in Florida
Illicit drug sales generate enormous profits. The government estimates is that cocaine traffickers in Florida, including wholesalers and small time dealers, earn almost $5.5 billion a year. This cash must be smuggled out of the United States or converted into legitimate businesses. And while money laundering charges are often connected to drug traffickers in Florida, they are now related to white collar crimes including mortgage fraud, real estate schemes and investment fraud and scams.
Defending a Money Laundering Charge in Palm Beach County
The FBI aggressively pursues money launderers because of potential ties to terrorism. The full weight of the Federal Government can come crashing down on you. A defendant needs a criminal defense attorney with considerable experience – not just because money laundering is a serious offense but because it can involve many levels of government and countless agencies. Even for a veteran attorney, few cases are more challenging.
There are many defenses – illegal search and seizure, illegal wire transfers, discrediting the prosecution’s witness – to name a few. But it is a complicated charge. If you have been charged with money laundering in Palm Beach County, there are only a few criminal defense attorneys you can depend on.