In recent years the amount of money laundered globally has increased significantly, due in part to advances in technology and the increased malleability of international borders. In response to this problem, governmental regulatory authorities have introduced anti-money laundering (AML) regulations that are aimed at detecting and preventing money laundering. For banks, financial institutions, and other companies, complying with these regulations can be extremely difficult and costly while the penalties for failing to catch money laundering activities can be even more expensive. If you have been accused of money laundering, or you are the target of a federal money laundering investigation, you face serious penalties if convicted.
At Haas Law, we have extensive experience with federal money laundering laws and regulations. Let us put our skills and resources to work for you to ensure that your rights are protected throughout a money laundering investigation and subsequent prosecution.
Anti-Money Laundering Regulations
According to The Economist, global banks were hit with $10.4 billion in fines for money-laundering violations in 2020, an increase of more than 80 percent from 2019. In January 2021, Capital One was fined $390 million for failing to report thousands of fishy transactions while Danske Bank continues to deal with the 2018 scandal involving over $200 billion of potentially dirty money that was allegedly washed through the Danish lender’s Estonian branch while executives missed or ignored a sea of red flags.
To combat the increase in money laundering internationally, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body with 37 members the world over, created a set of regulations to help detect, report, and prevent suspicious activities at financial institutions. In addition, many countries (including the United States) have enacted laws that criminalize money-laundering activities. Complying with these laws and regulations can be burdensome for financial institutions for several reasons, including:
- Complying with multi-jurisdictional regulations and laws. It is often difficult to manage AML-compliance requirements when they involve cross-border transactions and multi-jurisdictional regulations that require a constantly increasing amount of customer due diligence.
- Technology and skilled personnel challenges. Technological advances are occurring at lightning speed. Trying to obtain and maintain the technology necessary to stay ahead of money-laundering activities can be costly and time-consuming. Moreover, getting skilled personnel capable of operating that technology and with knowledge of AML can be equally challenging.
- Complicated processes and procedures. Complying with AML regulations typically involves complex processes and procedures that consolidate Know Your Customer (KYC) data and systems in a single repository. Detecting suspicious activities and analyzing suspected fraud and financial crimes often requires vast resources that are costly and burdensome. Making things even more difficult is the fact that risk assessment is a dynamic task that changes with each transaction.
With all of those laws and regulations, you might expect authorities to catch a significant percentage of money laundering activities. The reality is that AML efforts are largely unsuccessful. In fact, the Money Laundering/Terrorist Financing (ML/TF) regime is “almost completely ineffective in disrupting illicit finances and serious crime,” according to the Journal of Financial Crime. In short, these massively inconvenient regulations, processes, and procedures appear to do little to hamper money laundering; however, they do make it increasingly likely that law-abiding citizens or companies will be targeted of a money laundering investigation or charged with a money laundering crime.
Money Laundering Defense Strategies
At the federal level, there are several laws that govern money laundering and the processes that are used to launder money, including the Money Laundering Control Acts, the Bank Secrecy Act and the Patriot Act as well as the Anti-Drug Abuse Act and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. The penalties for a conviction for violating any of these laws can include a lengthy term of imprisonment, forfeiture of assets, and/or a hefty financial penalty.
If you have been accused of money laundering, an experienced defense attorney may utilize a variety of defense strategies, such as:
- Lack of intent. To be convicted of any criminal offense the prosecution must prove that the defendant had the requisite state of mind at the time the offense was committed. Often, a defendant charged with money laundering lacked the intent to commit the crime.
- Insufficient evidence. The government bears the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The complex web of activities typically involved in a money laundering scheme can make it hard for the prosecution to meet that threshold.
- The source was legal. To prove money laundering the prosecution must show that the source of the funds was something illegal. If your attorney can demonstrate otherwise, the government’s case will fall apart.
Get Help from Experienced Orlando Money Laundering Defense Attorney
If you have reason to believe that you are the target of a federal money laundering investigation, or you have already been charged with a money laundering criminal offense, the time to consult with an experienced federal defense attorney is now.
At Haas Law, our experienced money laundering defense attorneys understand the complex national and international AML laws and regulations, and we are dedicated to using that knowledge and experience to protect you, your rights, and your future.
Call us at 407-755-7675, chat with us online, or submit our online form today. Because we understand that time is of the essence when federal law enforcement authorities are investigating you, our calls are answered 24 hours a day, allowing you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.