If you work in the financial industry, you might become an unwitting and unwilling participant in a money-laundering scheme. Criminal organizations often turn to financial advisers to "wash" their money obtained through criminal activity. An investigation by either Ohio or federal authorities could result in your arrest, even if you did not know your clients used your expertise to launder their ill-gotten gains.
How is money laundering defined?
Simply put, compare money laundering to a shell game. It involves concealing the true ownership and misrepresenting the origin of money gained through criminal activity by shifting it around to create the appearance that it came from a legitimate source. If you face charges for money laundering, officials believe the following:
- You provided financial services that resulted in the laundering of the funds of a criminal organization.
- You knew or suspected that the money in question came from criminal activity.
The facts of the case might prove the first element, but proving the second element presents a challenge to law enforcement officials and prosecutors. The large array of financial services available to everyone makes it difficult to pinpoint how an individual or organization obtained their money. In addition, many financial transactions take place over the internet these days, which provides a greater degree of anonymity than ever before.
What steps allude to money laundering?
When breaking down money laundering to its simplest form, it most often involves the following steps:
- An individual or organization deposits money into a financial institution.
- Certain financial services move the money around to wash it, and it becomes difficult to identify ownership of the funds through a process called layering.
- The money then reenters the economy through legitimate means.
Of course, this over-simplification fails to account for the complexities involved or the numerous ways in which each step takes place. In fact, these steps often overlap, making it more difficult to identify a client's true intentions.
What should I do if I am under suspicion for or charged with money laundering?
It would be advantageous to hire an attorney as quickly as possible, even before officials file charges. Officials may not violate your rights during an investigation. Furthermore, they must adhere to certain policies and procedures. Any violation of your rights or mistakes made could result in a dismissal or reduction of the charges. You also retain the right to review any supposed evidence that prosecutors intend to present against you and confront any witnesses in court.
The law requires prosecutors to provide evidence of your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Considering the potential penalties you face, along with the fact that a conviction or even an arrest could affect your personal and professional lives for a long time, attempting to deal with the charges on your own would more than likely do more harm than good. Nothing less than your future is at stake.