Money laundering is a process in which a person tries to make money gained through criminal activities appear to come from a legitimate source. In other words, the person “launders” so-called dirty money to make it look clean.
Common forms of money laundering
A classic example of money laundering involves use of a cash-based business like a restaurant. Each day, the restaurant infuses “dirty” money into the restaurant’s receipts to make those funds appear to be legitimate revenue for the restaurant.
Money laundering can take other forms. An individual may move funds among numerous bank accounts or shell companies to disguise the source of the funds, thereby making the money appear legitimate. Or a person may use a series of complicated real estate or cryptocurrency transactions to hide the true source of funds.
Laws related to money laundering
Money laundering is punishable under a federal law that carries serious consequences. To detect and combat money laundering, banks must file a report with the government of any cash transactions over $10,000 or any suspicious transactions the institution considers suspicious.
Of course, there are numerous reasons why a person may be legitimately transferring large sums of money. A person may also unknowingly get involved in a money laundering scheme. To be a crime, the person must know and intend to launder dirty money.
Ultimately, to obtain a conviction, the government must prove a person’s intent. Each person accused of money laundering has the right to a defense. An attorney experienced with white collar criminal defense can help a person accused of money laundering understand their rights and options.