Money Laudering

18 U.S.C. § 1956 (2005)

The Crime

Section 1956(a)(1)

Under subsection (a)(1) it is a crime for a person, "knowing that the property involved in a financial transaction represents the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity" to:

  • conduct or attempt to conduct such a financial transaction which in fact involves the proceeds of specified unlawful activity-
    • with the intent
      • to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity, 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(A)(i); or
      • with intent to engage in conduct constituting a violation 26 U.S.C. §§ 7201 or 7206 (relating to the Internal Revenue Code), 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(A)(ii) ; or
    • knowing that the transaction is designed in whole or in part-
      • to conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or the control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity, 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i); or
      • to avoid a transaction reporting requirement under State or Federal law. Id. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(ii).

Section 1956(a)(2)

Under subsection (a)(2), it is a crime for a person to

  • transport, transmit, or transfer, (or attempt to transport, transmit, or transfer) a monetary instrument or funds from a place in the United States to or through a place outside the United States or to a place in the United States from or through a place outside the United States-
    • with the intent to promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity, 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(2)(A); or
    • knowing that the monetary instrument or funds involved in the transportation represent the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity and knowing that such transportation, transmission, or transfer is designed in whole or in part-
      • to conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or the control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity, Id. § 1956(a)(2)(B)(i); or
      • to avoid a transaction reporting requirement under State or Federal law. Id. § 1956(a)(2)(B)(ii).

Section 1956(a)(3)

Under subsection (a)(3), it is a crime for a person to have the intent to

  • promote the carrying on of specified unlawful activity, 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(3)(A);
  • conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of property believed to be the proceeds of specified unlawful activity, Id. § 1956(a)(3)(B); or
  • avoid a transaction reporting requirement under State or Federal law, Id. § 1956(a)(3)(C), and
  • conduct or attempt to conduct a financial transaction involving property represented to be the proceeds of specified unlawful activity, or property used to conduct or facilitate specified unlawful activity. Id. § 1956(a)(3).

The Punishment

The punishment for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1) is

  • a fine of not more than $ 500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater,
  • imprisonment for not more than twenty years,
  • or both. 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)

The punishment for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(2) is

  • a fine of not more than $ 500,000 or twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved in the transportation, transmission, or transfer, whichever is greater,
  • imprisonment for not more than twenty years,
  • or both. 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(2) For the purpose of the offense described in18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(2)(B), the defendant's knowledge may be established by proof that a law enforcement officer represented the matter specified in 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(2)(B) as true, and the defendant's subsequent statements or actions indicate that the defendant believed such representations to be true. 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(2).

The punishment for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(3) is

  • a fine under this title
  • imprisonment for not more than 20 years
  • or both. 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(3).
    • For purposes of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(a)(3) and (2), the term "represented" means any representation made by a law enforcement officer or by another person at the direction of, or with the approval of, a Federal official authorized to investigate or prosecute violations of this section. 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(3).

In addition to the criminal penalties, there are civil penalties owed to the United States for violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956 or 1957. The penalty in this situation is not more than the greater of

  • the value of the property, funds, or monetary instruments involved in the transaction, 18 U.S.C. § 1956(b)(1)(A); or
  • $ 10,000. Id. § 1956(b)(1)(B).