Money laundering entails taking criminal profits and moving them in a prohibited manner to give the appearance of legitimacy. Criminals or persons acting on their behalf generate proceeds in the form of money or property by committing a crime designated as a specified unlawful activity (SUA). Criminals then move that SUA money with the intent to disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of the funds; this is s known as “concealment” money laundering. Alternatively, in “promotion” money laundering, they reinvest the SUA money in their illicit activity to ensure its continuing nature. Either theory suffices for a money laundering charge. It is the responsibility of legal counsel to ascertain the facts and determine which of the money laundering statutes is/are appropriate for the circumstances.

Asset Forfeiture Investigations

Federal asset forfeiture laws permit the government to take ownership of money and property belonging to criminals based on proof developed during an investigation. Although sending a convicted criminal to prison is a deterrent to the commission of future crimes, the deterrence becomes much more powerful when combined with the arsenal of asset forfeiture laws that deprive criminals of everything that motivated them to commit the crimes in the first place. Similar to approaching money laundering crimes, attorney involvement in asset forfeitures involves closely examining the facts to determine the presence an SUA and to conduct a strict tracing of the money or other assets derived from that SUA.