“Money laundering” as it is commonly called, involves the transfer of monies that are a product of criminal activity – whether that activity is drug trafficking related or white collar crime related. Although there is a fairly broad definition of money laundering, the federal money laundering laws were enacted to attempt to take the profit out of criminal activity.
Congress has passed several laws over the years to prevent profits of criminal activity from being utilized, such as Currency Transaction Reports. The Anti-Money Laundering Statutes criminalizes the movement and use of profits/wealth created by criminal activity. See Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956 and 1957.
Many people have concerns about these statutes, included the apparently broad application of these statutes, especially concerns about reaching into legitimate business activities. A common example of this concern is a scenario where an individual or business handles money with no knowledge of any criminal origin, which could result in prosecution for money laundering in federal court.
In summary, the government has to prove that a person knowingly made some transfer or transaction with monies that were proceeds of a specified unlawful activity. The two commonly used statutes in federal courts, 18, U.S.C., Sections 1956 and 1957, list the specified unlawful activities that are the basis for federal money laundering.
Key Aspects of the Money Laundering law num. 1956. Laundering of Monetary Instruments include: (a) (1) Whoever, knowing that the property involved in a financial transaction represents the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity, conducts or attempts to conduct such a financial transaction which in fact involves the proceeds of specified unlawful activities: (A) (i) with the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity; or (ii) with intent to engage in conduct constituting a violation of section 7201 or 7206 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; or (B) knowing that the transaction is designed in whole or in part: (i) to conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or the control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity; or (ii) to avoid a transaction reporting requirement under State or Federal law, shall be sentenced to a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both. (2) Whoever transports, transmits, or transfers, or attempts to transport, transmit, or transfer a monetary instrument or funds from a place in the United States to or through a place outside the United States or to a place in the United States from or through a place outside the United States.
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