When an individual earns income via illegal channels, they will often take measures to conceal where that money came from. While the concept of money laundering may evoke images of organized crime, it is also a practice that occurs in white collar settings, and it can result in federal criminal charges.
Money laundering can present as a subtle criminal act. If you are facing charges stemming such an offense, you may have been oblivious to it even taking place within your organization. For those who stand accused of money laundering, it can be helpful to have a comprehensive understanding of the crime itself.
A three-part criminal process
Money laundering, by definition, is the act of putting illegal monetary gains through a series of transactions to make them appear legitimate. This process often unfolds in three steps:
- Placement: Ill-gotten money is deposited into the financial system in increments that are shy of bank reporting requirements. These deposits often occur in multiple places to avoid detection.
- Separation via layering: Once funds have been deposited, they are then put through several transactions to obscure their origins. These transactions can include wire transfers and foreign accounts to create a confusing paper trail.
- Integration of assets: In the third stage, funds need to integrate to look legal. Real estate transactions are a common tool for this phase of the money laundering process.
Federal anti-money laundering laws aim to deter this practice with harsh punishments. A money laundering conviction can result in significant fines and prison time. Money laundering and other white collar crimes, especially those that take place at a federal level, warrant a serious defense approach. Those facing charges for such a crime can greatly benefit from consulting with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney.