Unlike many other white collar crimes, money laundering is a federal crime prosecuted in federal court. Another unique element of money laundering is that there is no set minimum amount of money required to support a money laundering charge or conviction.
Money laundering is one of the most complex financial crimes, but at the most basic level, can be defined as someone conducting or attempting to conduct a financial transaction that involves the proceeds (money gained) from other illegal activity. Money laundering can also occur when a transaction is designed to conceal or disguise the nature, location, or source of the ill-gotten proceeds.
Some common examples of money laundering include:
- Making numerous, small amount deposits into a bank in order to avoid reporting of large deposits to the Internal Revenue Service
- Depositing cash into foreign bank accounts to avoid reporting to United States authorities
- Creating or operating shell companies or business fronts in order to try and legitimize some other illegal activity or illegally obtained money.
- And here in Nevada, gambling with “dirty” money is a very common means of money laundering. In this version, someone will bring money obtained from an illegal activity, exchange the money for casino chips, and after gambling for a period of time, cash out their chips for cash, and then deposit this “clean” money into their bank account. This is illegal and will be prosecuted as money laundering.
Due to the complex nature of money laundering, the potential consequences span a wide range of possibilities including civil penalties equal to the value of the property, funds, or monetary instrument involved; or in other cases up to 20 years in federal prison and up to $500,000 in fines. In cases involving time in prison, you will be forced to spend your prison time somewhere out of state because Nevada does not have a federal prison located in the state.
Additionally, courts can freeze or even seize assets of persons charged with money laundering, and this can (and often does) extend to the freezing or seizure of bank accounts and assets that were not part of the money laundering scheme. So even assets not involved in the criminal activity are at risk if you are being investigated for or are charged with money laundering. Due to the serious nature of money laundering, you should contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible. Even an arrest for suspected money laundering raises questions about your honesty and character and can result in extreme difficulty in obtaining future employment. And like fraud, because money laundering is considered a crime of dishonesty, a money laundering charge can also prevent someone from gaining or maintaining legal immigration status.
If you or someone that you know has been charged with money laundering, don’t wait to hire a skilled and experienced attorney who can help. The attorneys at The Wright Law Group, P.C. has more than 25 years of experience and we understand that there are always two sides to a story. We want to hear from you so we can help build an effective defense for your case. Call us today at (702) 405-0001 to schedule your free initial consultation.