Concerned with the large profits generated by drug trafficking, Congress enacted in 1986 the Money Laundering Crimes Act of 1986, for the express purpose of making it a federal offense to conduct transactions with money generated from “specified unlawful activity.”
These statutes offer a complex scheme that result in offenses that carry substantial penalties, even when the funds laundered were not found together with any drugs.
Although the money laundering statutes were initially enacted as part of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, the reach of the offense is much greater than just money derived from drug trafficking. The money laundering statutes require that it be proven that the defendant know that property involved in the financial transaction represent “the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity.” Specified unlawful activities include a whole host of crimes. Some of the conduct that comes within the definition of specified unlawful activities are those acts that qualify as offenses under Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO)(not less than 45 offenses), miscellaneous financial frauds against the government, federal narcotics offenses, and many others.
The penalties for money laundering are severe. The maximum punishment is 20 years per offense. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines (See Federal Sentencing) calculations for determining the sentence are based on one of two possibilities: (a) the guidelines calculation that is obtained from the crime that provided the laundered funds or property, or (b) the actual value of the property alleged to be laundered. Probation is not prohibited, but the guidelines that advise the imposition of probation would probably require that the value of the property laundered be less than $10,000.00.
Money laundering is basically a financial crime, requiring the proper analysis of financial transactions, be they securities, banking, real estate, or any other. A lawyer experienced in reviewing and analyzing these transactions is absolutely essential for the preparation of a proper and effective defense.
Our firm has handled and successfully defended money laundering cases dealing with fraud, drug trafficking, and RICO offenses since the passage of the statute in 1986.