What Is Money Laundering?

An often referenced but little understood white collar crime, money laundering is one of the most common white collar crimes in the world. Let the legal experts at the Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot
help you better understand the nature of this crime, it’s prevalence, how investigators approach prosecuting these activities, and how defendants can protect themselves against allegations with the right defense team by their side. 

What is money laundering?

In the simplest of terms money laundering is the process of taking “dirty money” (i.e. money that is procured by illegal activities) and “cleaning” it in an effort to make it appear that it has come from legitimate sources and activities. The sources of these dirty money activities can include drug trafficking, financial crimes, human trafficking, health care fraud, corruption, and even terrorsim. 

According to a 2016 FBI (missing word??), some $300 billion in laundered money is moved throughout the world in concealed transitions.

Not only does the process of money laundering aid in protecting criminals from detection of authorities, but it also assists them to avoid taxation while enriching them and further emboldening them to participate in future illegal activities.

With such a wide array of activities associated with money laundering, devoting resources to rooting it out and prosecuting it can be difficult. The FBI, in particular focuses on a few key areas in order to make the best use of their person power.  Professional money launderers and  corrupt financial institutions are just a few of the arenas where authorities focus their attention. 

How does money laundering work?

To be clear, money laundering is often a complex process, one that is so by design in order to avoid detection. Most money laundering can be divided into three distinct categories: placement, layering, and integration. 

Placement is just as it sounds, as it is the placement of a criminal’s dirty money into the financial system. Layering is the process in which the criminally derived funds are divided across a typically complex (therefore difficult to audit) series of transactions or investments. These can include real estate, financial institutions, virtual or digital currency (such as bitcoin), precious metals, and more. Integration is where those funds are then directed back to the criminal by what now appear to be legitimate sources. 

Viewers of the Netflix series Ozark will be familiar with this process, as it depicts the activities of a seemingly normal midwestern family who, through nefarious ties to illegal actors, are forced to relocate in an effort to protect their lives by participating in a complex and harrowing money laundering scheme. 

How does the FBI track money laundering?

In an effort to keep these real-life activities fictional, the FBI regularly collaborates with local, state, and federal agencies in detection and deterrence programs. Similarly, and due to the global nature of these crimes, the FBI also partners with international agencies to quell money laundering while also pursuing the crimes that bankroll the bad actors in the first place. 

Billions upon billions of dollars are moved through the international banking system each year by criminals of all stripes, from run of the mill basement dwellers to transnational terrorist groups. The facilitators are these transactions are of particular interest to investigators, as they can lead authorities to a host of bad actors associated with these crimes. 

The digital age has only made these schemes more complex, requiring agencies like the FBI to increase their own sophistication in their ability to detect, prosecute, and prevent money laundering crimes, as well as their investment in highly trained personnel for divisions like their own Money Laundering Unit. The regular collaboration with the FBI’s Cyber and Counterintelligence divisions has also become a frequent and crucial part of their prosecution of alleged money laundering crimes. 

What do I do if I believe I’m a victim of a money laundering crime?

The authorities recommend filing complaints at their Internet Crime Complaint Center site, IC3.gov, or to take other means to partner with the agency in an effort to get to the heart of the alleged crime and to help combat future instances of this act to continue. 

What should you do if you’ve been accused of money laundering?

As is the case with any criminal accusation, the accused should do all they can in an effort to protect their rights as outlined in the Miranda Warning.

Before speaking with authorities, you should secure the aid of a defense attorney. The legal system can be a complex world to navigate. While maintaining an appropriate level of respect with the authorities is always recommended, speaking with them without the express approval of your attorney is never advised. Your words and actions will be used against you in court, so developing a strong partnership with your attorney is key in protecting your constitutional rights.

Stay focused on your freedom, collaborate closely with your attorney, be as candid with them as possible, and share any and all information you have related to your case so that they can create the best defense possible. Speaking with anyone outside of attorney-approved people about your case could jeopardize your freedom.  

The Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot’s team of experts has the experience, resources, and proven track record of success necessary to give you the confidence you need in choosing the right criminal defense attorney for your case and the tenacious defense you deserve in securing the best possible outcome for your situation.

Has you or someone you know been accused of money laundering?
You deserve an effective legal defense attorney.
Call the Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot TODAY for your confidential consultation. Don’t delay. Your freedom depends on it.