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An overview of money laundering

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

White-collar crimes in Boulder, Colorado are commonly nonviolent crimes committed for monetary gain. The term gets its name from the usual offender, which is people in respectable financial positions, such as banks. A typical white-collar crime is money laundering or attempting to make money made illegally appear clean.

How money laundering works

Money laundering involves three steps to make the money look like it came from a legal source: placement, layering, and integration. The reason the offender attempts to hide the money is that it comes from illegal activity, such as drug dealing.

Common methods used to conceal money include gambling, counterfeiting, or opening a shell business, or buying valuable real estate. In recent years, cryptocurrency and online banking have made it easier for offenders to hide money from illegal sources.

The placement stage occurs when the money enters the system and the layering phase conceals it, usually through several small transactions. The scammer gets the money returned to them during the integration phase to use for the intended purpose. Since most of the transactions come through banks, they are required to monitor accounts and report extra-large transactions to authorities.

Defenses to money laundering charges

The criminal defense could make the argument the offender had no intent, which is a required element. For example, the defendant may not have known the money was going to be used for illegal purposes. Another defense is duress, or the defendant was under threat of harm if they didn’t commit the crime.

The evidence of suspicious activity beyond reasonable doubt must also be present to get a conviction. To prove illegal activity, the prosecution needs documents and witness statements to show connections to the crime with the intent to hide.

Money laundering harms the economy, so offenders commonly face fines of up to $500,000 and a 20-year jail term. However, getting charged doesn’t mean guilty, and it is possible to fight charges.