What people should know about money laundering

Money laundering is a highly complex type of white collar crime involving financial transactions, and may have hefty penalties.

Hiding assets from the United States government may be considered criminal, especially when people have obtained those funds in an illegal manner. White collar crimes, such as money laundering, make it difficult for financial institutions to maintain their stability. Furthermore, these crimes may keep people from making foreign investments and can ultimately interrupt the way money is handled throughout the nation and internationally.

What is money laundering?

People who have obtained money from illegal sources, such as health care fraud, human trafficking, terrorism, narcotics trafficking and complex financial crimes, may use money laundering as a way to make their assets appear to have come from legitimate sources. As people collect their money through these 'legal' sources, they are able to avoid drawing suspicions from law enforcement, not pay taxes on the money and, in some cases, reinvest the money in other areas to gain addition profit.

Money can be laundered through a wide-range of businesses, corporations and processes, such as international trade, third-party service providers, financial institutions, real estate, virtual currency and precious metals.

Steps in the money laundering process

The first step in making money 'clean' involves placing money into the financial system. The money is then layered, or moved to an international institution. During this process the funds are separated from whatever criminal activity is was obtained from and filters the money through a trail of transactions. Finally, the money is returned to the person who obtained the funds during an integration process.

To be charged with money laundering, a person must know that the property or money they are handling was gained through an illegal activity, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Anyone who engages in a money laundering transaction, such as purchasing, loaning, selling, gifting, transferring or delivering the product, may be charged. In addition, those who are caught making a financial transaction, such as depositing, withdrawing, exchanging currency, extending credit or transferring funds between accounts with the knowledge of where the money was obtained, may be penalized as well.

When to obtain legal assistance

When you are faced with criminal charges, including white collar and federal crimes, you may be overwhelmed with the possibility of conviction and the subsequent penalties that follow. During this emotional time, you may not be prepared or equipped to make the right decisions regarding your future. A criminal defense attorney in Georgia may help you look at all your legal options, answer your questions and assist you in preparing a solid defense to the charges.