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What Is Considered Money Laundering in California?

Money laundering refers to the illegal process of making large amounts of money generated by a criminal activity, such as drug trafficking or terrorist funding, that appear to have come from a legitimate source. Money laundering laws make it a crime to transfer such money derived from almost any criminal activity (organized crime, white-collar offenses, terrorist activities, drug transactions) into seemingly legitimate channels in an attempt to disguise the origin of the funds.

The rise of the Internet has further enabled crimes of money laundering, as the rise of online banking institutions, anonymous online payment services and peer-to-peer (P2P) transfers with mobile phones have made detecting the illegal transfer of money even more difficult. Moreover, the use of proxy servers and anonymizing software makes it possible for money to be transferred or withdrawn leaving much trace of an IP address.

In certain situations, money can also be laundered through online auctions and sales, gambling websites, and virtual gaming sites, where ill-gotten money is converted into gaming currency, then back into real, usable, and untraceable "clean" money. In recent news, many money laundering cases have involved cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which have been used in blackmail schemes, the drug trade, and other criminal activities due to their relative anonymity.

Money Laundering Laws

Historically, the US has implemented numerous money laundering laws to prevent such illegal financial activity. The Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 prohibits individuals from engaging in financial transactions (e.g., transferring money from one private individual to another) with the proceeds of certain crimes.

The USA Patriot Act also includes provisions that strengthen and expand the regulation of financial transactions, and Title II of the Patriot Act is even known as the International Money Laundering Abatement and Anti-Terrorist Financing Act of 2001 that focuses almost entirely on money laundering issues. The Patriot Act's provisions require the creation and implementation of anti-money laundering programs and create potential criminal liability for institutions that are "willfully blind" to money laundering taking place within their institutions. The law also requires that companies designate a compliance officer, implement training programs, and conduct independent audits.

These money laundering laws can trigger an investigation of a suspect financial institution by the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of Currency, which may impose civil fines or refer matters for criminal prosecution. Note that "financial institution" includes banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, and broker-dealers in securities and not necessarily investment advisors or transfer agents. Generally speaking, only companies required to be registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940 are covered by these laws, though cases may vary.

Recently, the federal government also enacted the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, which:

  • establishes a uniform beneficial ownership information reporting regime that includes reporting requirements for certain US corporations and limited liability companies;
  • codifies the risk-based approach to anti-money laundering/countering terrorism financing (AMT/CFT) compliance;
  • modernizes AML/CFT systems;
  • greatly expands enforcement and investigation-related authority including an expansion of the duties, powers, and functions of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the authority of U.S. courts to subpoena foreign banks that maintain correspondent accounts with U.S. banks; and
  • aligns supervision and examination priorities by emphasizing coordination, cooperation, and information-sharing among financial institutions, US financial regulators, and foreign financial regulators.

Contact Attorney Diane C. Bass for Legal Help

If you are facing accusations for money laundering, it is advisable to enlist the help of an experienced lawyer immediately. The law takes these cases very seriously, and there are numerous specific statutes in place addressing crimes of money laundering. At the Law Office of Diane C. Bass, A Professional Law Corporation, Attorney Diane C. Bass will do her best to build a strong defense against your money laundering charges. She will represent you aggressively in court and champion your defense.

Attorney Diane C. Bass is a skilled legal professional who has an outstanding reputation throughout the Southern California community. You can trust that she will handle your money laundering case with careful attention to detail and put up a tenacious defense for you in court. Attorney Bass will fight aggressively for you against harsh money laundering charges and protect your rights in trial.

Get started on your money laundering case today with Attorney Bass. Schedule a free consultation online or at (949) 264-0696.

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