“Money laundering” is the term used for running illegally-obtained income through a business operation in order to make it seem like a legitimate part of the business proceeds.
That takes the “dirty money” that comes from an illegal source and makes it “clean money.” As you might be able to suspect, the purpose of cleaning the money is to make it impossible to trace back to its illegal source. That gets the money out in the open, where it can then be spent — because what good is having a lot of money if you can’t spend it?
One way that legitimate business enterprises sometimes get caught up in a money laundering mess is by becoming a “front” for a criminal enterprise. Bars, casinos, massage parlors, the diamond trade and construction are all popular targets because they can all pass a lot of cash through their doors without raising suspicions. The person laundering the money can mix a significant amount of funds in with each day’s tips or cash proceeds and bank it.
There are a number of additional steps that often go along with money laundering, depending on how it is being done and what purpose the funds are actually going to be used for in the end. Once almost exclusively an activity done by the Mafia, money laundering is now related to things like improper campaign contributions, black market commodities, heroin trafficking, human trafficking and terrorism.
There are a number of federal laws aimed at stopping money laundering — but none so aggressive as the Patriot Act, which was passed in the wake of the destruction on September 11, 2001. It has created a variety of anti-money laundering programs and imposes significant criminal penalties on institutions and individuals who turn a blind eye to money laundering that’s happening right in front of them.
Given the complexity of money laundering processes, the growing sophistication of the both those who are doing the money laundering and those who are investigating it, it takes an attorney with a significant amount of experience in white collar crimes to defend a case. If you are under investigation personally, or the company you work for is being investigated, don’t waste time — seek the help of an attorney promptly.
Source: FindLaw, “Money Laundering,” accessed May 26, 2017