Businesses In Florida Are Investigated For Money Laundering
When it comes to a money laundering scheme, individuals obtain money through illegal activity and convert it into white money through certain business activities and numerous financial transactions. As reported by Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the motive of the activity is to make the funds appear to come from a legal source. IRS plays a key role in the investigation of money laundering crimes because financial records are important to successful prosecutions. Additionally, laundered money is generally non-taxable income.
A number of Florida businesses have lately become the target of a federal money laundering as the United States Treasury Department imposed new reporting requirements on Miami-area electronics exporters. According to the Miami New Times (news source), the agency’s Financial Crime Enforcement Network is requiring about 700 businesses to report any cash transfers over $3,000. This reportedly differs from the usual $10,000 reporting requirement. Moreover, each business must provide solid proof that the customer is known and can be identified with legitimate documents.
The federal agency’s press release reads in part, “Law enforcement investigations reveal that many of these businesses are exploited as part of sophisticated trade-based money laundering schemes in which drug proceeds in the United States are converted into goods that are shipped to South America and sold for local currency, which is ultimately transferred to drug cartels.” This reportedly suggests that many of these businessmen are unaware that their services are being used in to in sync with such illegal schemes.
How It Works
As described in news reports, the schemes generally work as follows:
- A drug trafficker smuggles drugs to U.S. and then coordinates their sale for cash;
- The trafficker uses that money to purchase a large quantity of electronics;
- The electrical items are shipped out of the country for in exchange of currency (US Dollars); and
- The profit appears to originate from the sale of the electronics, instead of the original drug sales.
The Law in Florida
Florida statute makes it illegal to knowingly conduct a financial transaction that involves the proceeds of unlawful activity. This means that the individual involved knew or should have reasonably known the origin of the funds involved. It is also unlawful to transport illegally earned funds, transport goods purchased with illegally earned funds, or attempt to disguise their origin.
The penalties for money laundering are potentially serious.
- If the value of the transaction falls between $300 and $20,000, the offense is classified as a third degree felony, with possible imprisonment up to five years;
- If the value of the transaction falls between $20,000 and $100,000, the offense is classified as a second degree felony, with possible imprisonment up to 15 years; and
- If the value of the transaction exceeds $100,000, the offense is classified as a first degree felony, with possible imprisonment up to 30 years.
These stringent laws and penalties make it pretty much evident that they are very serious when someone is charged for money laundering. To convict on this crime, the prosecution must prove knowledge of the money’s origin, and a capable attorney can create adequate doubt about this necessary element.
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