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Money Laundering Crimes

Money Laundering: Title 18 United States Code, Sections 1956 & 1957

Two words that no defendant ever wants to hear are “Money Laundering.” Used together, these words are the foundation of a set of Federal crimes that can, and routinely do, result in years of incarceration. Do not be naïve, misguided or uneducated on the Federal criminal laws that you may face when the FBI, IRS, Secret Service or any other Federal agency executes a search warrant at your office, attempts to question you at your home or arrests you in the street. From the outset of any allegation as a target, subject or even a witness to a Money Laundering investigation, consulting with your Federal criminal lawyer or Money Laundering defense attorney is critical to mounting a viable strategy to confront violations of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956 and Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957.

Federal Money Laundering: Understanding the Basics

Money Laundering is a Federal crime that is well known but little understood. Essentially, just about any financial or monetary transaction involving money obtained from unlawful activity can be a Federal Money Laundering offense. Many people erroneously believe that Federal prosecutors only use Money Laundering charges in conjunction with narcotics or drug crimes. The reality is that Federal prosecutors regularly charge Money Laundering in connection with other white collar offenses because they believe it may be easier to prove, or because the Money Laundering sentence may be longer than that for the underlying offense.

Anyone who engages in a banking or financial transaction for their personal or company business is subject to a Federal investigation of Money Laundering if Federal law enforcement believes that the transaction was involved in specified criminal activity.

Other Federal financial crimes are commonly investigated and charged along side Money Laundering, such as currency reporting offenses. Federal law mandates that banks and other financial institutions monitor all cash transactions and to report any suspicious activity, or any cash transaction over a certain pre-determined amount.

Legal Definitions & Terms Relevant to Federal Money Laundering Crimes

By no means all the terms and language that you and your criminal attorney must be familiar with when investigated, arrested or indicted for a Federal Money Laundering crimes, however, the following are some specifically defined terms:

A “financial transaction” is any transaction that affects interstate or foreign commerce involving the movement of funds by wire or otherwise, involves one or more monetary instruments, or involves the transfer of title to any real property, vehicle, vessel, or aircraft.

A “monetary instrument” is any coin or currency of the United States or any other country, personal checks, travelers’ checks, bank checks, money orders, investment securities or negotiable instruments such as bearer bonds.

A “specified unlawful activity” is any of dozens of violations of Federal crimes listed in Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(c)(7), including bribery, computer hacking, fraud, embezzlement and the like.

The Federal Money Laundering Statutes: Title 18 U.S.C., Sections 1956 & 1957

The two Federal Money Laundering criminal statutes are found at Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956 and Title 18, United States Code, Section 1957.

Section 1956(a)(1)(A) makes it illegal for a person who knows that money or property represents proceeds of criminal activity to conduct a financial transaction with that money and that money represents proceeds of specified unlawful activity (SUA) with the intent to promote that SUA, or to commit tax evasion.

Section 1956(a)(1)(B) makes the same type of transaction illegal if the defendant knows that the transaction is designed to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of the proceeds of the SUA, or to avoid a transaction reporting requirement (as discussed above).

Section 1956(a)(2) makes it illegal for anyone to transport, transmit, or transfer any monetary instrument from the United States to a place outside the United States with the intent to promote an SUA or to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of the proceeds of the SUA, or to avoid a transaction reporting requirement (as discussed above).

A violation of Money Laundering under Section 1956(a)(1) or (2) can result in a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater.

Section 1957 is violated if a person knowingly engages or attempts to engage in a monetary transaction in more than $10,000 in criminally derived property and that property is actually derived from SUA.

A violation of Section 1957 can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine.

Federal Money Laundering: A Lack of Specific Knowledge is No Defense

It is important to note that for violations of Money Laundering under Sections 1956 and 1957, the defendant need only know that the property was derived from some type of criminal activity – it is not required that he know exactly what that activity was. At the same time, for each, it is required that the criminal activity is an SUA as defined above.

If you, your company, co-worker, family member or friend has come under investigation because of any financial transactions, Money Laundering charges are a distinct possibility. As noted above, a criminal conviction can result in many years in prison. For this reason, it is important that you obtain experienced legal counsel early in the process. The former prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys at Saland Law are well versed in Money Laundering and related investigations and charges. We represent individuals and businesses in all aspects of financial investigations, including allegations of Money Laundering and currency reporting violations. Let Saland Law’s experience, skill and advocacy work for you.

Call our Federal Money Laundering lawyers and former prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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