Britt Redden Explains: Money Laundering
Theft in Dallas and across the great state of Texas does not always look like shop lifting or bank robbery. In many cases, theft comes in the form of after-hours transactions, missing funds, or omission of the truth. Unlike a gun shot or stabbing, it’s not every day that white-collar crimes like money laundering can be read about on the news. Typically, money laundering cases have long lead times, and are most often handled at the state or federal level. Alleged criminals who are under investigation for an illegal money laundering scheme need an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer who understands how to apply each individual case.
What is Money Laundering?
Money Laundering is a broad term which describes the process of disguising the source, amount, and/or the destination of capital.
The federal money laundering statutes are 18 U.S.C. § 1956 and 18 U.S.C. § 1957. These federal statutes make it illegal to transfer money which came from criminal activity in an attempt to disguise these funds. The penalties for money laundering are often hefty. Individuals indicted for money laundering may face up to 20 years in a federal prison, large fines up to $500,000 (or twice the value of property involved in the transaction), and/or seizure of assets.
Some common examples of money laundering can be seen within organized crime like fraud, embezzlement, or drug trafficking. In these cases, the alleged criminal(s) filter money made by illegal means through a business, bank account, or cryptocurrency account to make the money appear “clean” or as legitimate income. Money laundering cases are often connected to other crimes like tax evasion, mortgage fraud, securities fraud, credit card fraud, bank fraud, or other similar crimes.
The Stages of Money Laundering
Most often, the process of money laundering occurs in three main stages: placement, layering, and integration. Each step will look a bit different, and more or less complex depending on the criminal activity at work.
- Placement- Involves adding “dirty money” to legal financial systems. After a criminal commits theft, bribery, or corruption, the individual or group will “place” money into a legitimate financial account. Depositing money gained from illegal activity into an offshore bank account, for example, can disguise or “wash” funds
- Layering- Describes the process of moving the newly “washed” money around and across a financial system, offshore account, etc. In this stage of money laundering, criminals will obscure the audit trail using many financial transactions and fraudulent bookkeeping tactics to conceal the original source and ownership of the funds
- Integration- This phase could also be described simply as “spending”. At this point, the criminal begins to incorporate their laundered funds into the economy via real estate purchases or other asset grabs. By the end of the money laundering process, money appears to come from a legitimate source and can be used by the criminal as “legal” tender
Various Types of Money Laundering
Money laundering is an interesting crime because it often has connection to more criminal acts. By definition, a money laundering conviction case must show criminal intent to conceal the source of funds. Most commonly, a person is disguising the source of finances because those funds come from a criminal form of income. The money laundering process is done to make “dirty money” look “clean.”
A criminal convicted of laundering funds might also have a connection to mortgage fraud, securities fraud, credit card fraud, bank fraud, drug trafficking, or other crimes. These crimes that are performed in conjunction with money laundering can also be part of a greater criminal organization.
One of the most common or simple money laundering examples can be seen in the movie American Gangster which was based on a true story. It’s about Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) and his heroin smuggling and trafficking business. In real life and in the movie, Frank Lucas developed multiple cash businesses like a mechanic shop (aka “fronts”) in order to “launder” the money he gained from selling drugs.
There are also more complex ways that a criminal can launder funds. Individuals can spread large chunks of cash across multiple accounts, use currency exchanges to create international accounts, or set up shell companies to hold the money.
Criminals are still figuring out ways to beat anti-money-laundering laws with the use of digital transactions. To this point, “dirty” money can be “cleaned” via online auctions, virtual gaming/gambling, cryptocurrencies, and more.
History of Money Laundering
In 1986, the Money Laundering Control Act made money laundering a federal crime. The law specified that there would be no minimum threshold of money and would not require that the transaction succeed in disguising the money. Finally, the term “financial transaction” was broadly defined to involve a transaction between individuals, financial institutions, or businesses.
One of the most famous and expensive money laundering cases included Wachovia Bank. All in all, the story included $380 Billion dollars, cartel drug smuggling, and years of investigation.
The huge cases require many government agencies to track and review evidence attained during an indictment. Any number of agencies might be involved in a white-collar crime case like money laundering. At any given time, agencies like the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and even the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) could be involved.
Money Laundering Charges
For lone individuals, it is very difficult to fight alleged white-collar crime charges like money laundering. Individuals involved in a money laundering case should know that Redden Law Texas is available today for a consultation.
Britt Redden has a thorough mastery of Texas law. Prior to graduating from SMU Dedman School of Law, Britt was a Student Attorney with the SMU Criminal Justice Clinic where much of her experience focused on representing indigent clients facing criminal charges in Dallas County.
Britt has invaluable experience navigating the courtroom and counseling clients on negotiating plea bargain deals with the client’s individual needs in mind. Now, she uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Dallas, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense. Britt is an active member of the American Association for Justice, the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and Dallas Association Young Lawyers.
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense, contact Britt Redden, of Redden Law PLLC. Get the representation you deserve. Call Redden Law today (214) 699-8429 or reach out for a free legal consultation. Choose an experienced criminal defense attorney in Dallas, who fights for dismissal of charges by preparing a powerful legal defense strategy.