Money laundering is an offense in which people try to “clean” money obtained from illegal activities so that law enforcement cannot trace the illegal money to them.
The similar offense of money structuring involves breaking large financial transactions in many smaller transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements. In both cases, the act at issue attempts to circumvent federal laws that allow the government to track financial transactions and the source of income. Both offenses can result in significant legal penalties, including significant fines, asset forfeiture, restitution, and jail time.
Consequently, if you are facing allegations of either money laundering or structuring, it is extremely important to retain legal counsel as soon as possible.
Here are some examples of money laundering and structuring schemes
There are a number of ways in which money can be laundered or transactions can be structured that can violate federal law. Some of the most common are discussed below:
- Money laundering through the purchase of real estate: – One of the more common ways in which individuals may attempt to launder money is to purchase real estate through an LLC. An LLC is not subject to the same reporting requirements and tax obligations as a corporation but provides the owner with liability protection. A person attempting to launder their money this way may purchase the real estate through an LLC using illegal funds and immediately sell it once the initial transaction is completed. The resulting proceeds now seem to have come from a legitimate source rather than illegal activities and make it more difficult for law enforcement to trace the money to the illegal activity.
- Electronic money laundering – The rise of alternative financial services and currencies such as Bitcoin, PayPal, Dwolla, and payments made through mobile phones has made transferring money outside of the traditional banking system a relatively easy process. By engaging in these types of transactions, people who are attempting to launder money can mask the original illicit source of the income making it more difficult to trace the money back to their illegal activity.
- Structuring – Under federal law, transactions of $10,000 or more must be reported by the financial institution handling the transaction. Structuring occurs when someone attempts to avoid this requirement by breaking transactions down in several smaller transactions. Importantly, it makes no difference whether the money comes from a completely legitimate source, nor does it matter whether taxes are paid on the money in question. To be charged, it is simply enough that you allegedly attempted to avoid reporting requirements. Generally speaking, however, structuring usually occurs as an attempt to launder money or avoid paying taxes.
What you can do to protect your rights?
Federal laws relating to money laundering and structuring laws set out harsh penalties if you are convicted of these offenses. For this reason, it is essential to discuss your situation with an experienced defense lawyer if you have been charged with money laundering or other financial crimes.
Here are some hacks to protect you from money laundering and restructuring charges:
1. Protect Yourself
Usually, accusations of money laundering typically don’t imply malice. Often, money laundering result from an accountant’s or an organization’s negligence – which can always be avoided.
One of the most critical things you should give priority to, even if it’s rarely discussed is the prevention of criminal activities. But how can you escape the charges that come with money laundering accusations?
The best and most effective way to prevent money laundering charges is by first preventing criminal activities from happening. That’s why you need to keep an eye on the red flags of money laundering within your workplace. If you notice any fishy games, please take action as soon as possible.
2. Scrutinize Your Clients
While it may not look professional, the truth is that the best way to prevent or defend yourself against money laundering is by scrutinizing the behavior of your clients.
While an accountant shouldn’t be expected to be a watchdog to identify any criminal activities before they transpire, everyone within the workplace should make it his or her responsibility to keep in mind the government and international standards.
Having mastery of detecting malicious information provided to you by clients, for example, will help a great deal in defending you against accusations of money laundering. It is no secret that some clients have different missions apart from buying from you.
Therefore, there is no reason to ignore any scrupulous activities from a client. That may be the beginning of your troubles.
3. Consult With Colleague Friends Who Have Also Faced Money Laundering Accusation in the Past
Some colleagues have faced money laundering charges some time back. If they got out of it successfully, they should be the first people to consult so that they can tell you how they got out of it.
Of course, it is obvious that most of them hired attorneys to help them with their cases, but have time to consult with them before you can hire an attorney to represent you. Besides, it’s from them that you can get the right referrals.
4. Hire an Attorney
Chances are that you are not familiar with legal terms and you can end up being jailed if found guilty. You don’t want that to happen. So, go ahead and hire a lawyer to help you with your case.
Usually, it’s not easy to select an attorney to represent you. Therefore, ask for referrals from friends or colleagues who have also been in the same problem. At least they will refer you to the lawyers that helped them win their cases.
Time to Act
Money laundering accusations can mark the end of your career that took you years to build. Therefore, you need to be cautious with the activities within your workplace. Follow the above hacks, and you’ll be in a better place.