Money Laundering: When Prosecutors Follow the Money
Paul Manafort gained recognition when he took over the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential race. His name remains in the news, however, because special counsel Robert Mueller has been hot on his trail for, among other potential crimes, money laundering. If you find yourself being investigated for such a crime, an experienced criminal attorney is your best bet in securing a strong defense.
What is Money Laundering?
Money laundering is a common, yet complex method used to hide money that was acquired illegally. The goal is to obscure the original source of the ill-gotten gains. It generally occurs in several steps:
- Placement: The first step involves getting the cash into the financial system without drawing attention of law enforcement. This generally occurs by making deposits below bank reporting requirements of $10,000 or by depositing cash into accounts of money acquired legally, making the origins of funds murky to trace.
- Layering: Next, the illicit funds are involved in a series of complex transactions, creating a convoluted paper trail. Sometimes funds are wired overseas and shell corporations are created to hide money.
- Integration: Finally, a logical explanation for where the money originated is created. This could involve complicated real estate deals, investment securities, or other financial schemes.
Investigating Money Laundering
Financial records will be scrutinized in detail as investigators search for suspicious movements of funds or inconsistencies in transactions. What will detectives be looking for? A number of situations may look questionable. Red flags will appear when large sums of money have been broken down into multiple accounts below required reporting levels. When properties involved in financial transactions are connected to unlawful activity, it will pique the interest of investigators. Because fairly extensive records are required on all substantial financial transactions, when investigators get their hands on money records they have an effective way to build a case for money laundering. Investigators may also rely on paid informant testimony, undercover operations, and extensive technological assistance as they work to uncover these types of schemes. Ultimately, they may be able to tie deposits to organized crime, drug deals, blackmail, trafficking, embezzlement or larceny.
Penalties for Money Laundering
Harsh penalties have been established to deal with money laundering. In addition to civil penalties and hefty fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, persons found guilty of money laundering face serious time in both federal and state prison. For instance, under Florida state law, the amount of money involved in the crime in a 12-month period corresponds with the length of time behind bars:
- Over $300 but less than $20,000 within one year: up to 5 years of prison incarceration;
- A minimum of $20,000 but less than $100,000 within one year: up to 15 years of prison incarceration;
- Over $100,000 within one year: up to 30 years of prison incarceration.
Your Legal Defense
When allegations of money laundering are levied, a sharp, aggressive defense is required. Attorney Deric Zacca of the law office of Deric Zacca, P.A., is experienced in defending money laundering prosecutions in both State and Federal court. Contact him in Fort Lauderdale today for a confidential consultation.