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What is Money Laundering?

Money laundering is often a buzzword used in mob movies, but few people actually understand what money laundering is or how it works. Generally speaking money laundering is hiding money earned from illegal activity and there are state and federal laws against laundering. Some estimate that more than a trillion dollars are laundered every year.

In order for money laundering to happen there are two components that must be met: illegal activity and concealment.


Illegal Activity

The first qualification for money laundering is the money must be obtained from illegal activity. This means if you simply shuffle some money in an offshore bank account to hide it from the IRS it wouldn’t count as money laundering. While you can be convicted of tax evasion, since the money originated from a legal source money laundering isn’t on the table.



The second part of money laundering is concealing the source, destination, or identity of the money. This means making money from an illegal activity and then spending the money isn’t laundering. Common forms of concealment are funneling the money through a legitimate business or using foreign bank accounts the government can’t find.

Al Capone is one of the most famous money laundering cases in America. Capone made billions dealing bootlegged alcohol in the prohibition era. He funneled all the money through his business fronts, such as laundromats and restaurants, and would claim the laundered money was profits from his businesses.

Money laundering has serious penalties that can be up to 35 years in jail and a fine of double the value of the laundered money. This kind of crime requires the skills of a seasoned criminal defense lawyer. The lawyers at Baysinger, Henson, Reimer & Cresswell have the knowledge and experience needed to defend their clients from any type of criminal charge.