The federal money laundering statutes are a powerful tool used by the government to ratchet up exposure a defendant might face for other related crimes such as the fraud offenses described above. Originally enacted to target organized crime and the mob, the Money Laundering Control Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956 & 1957, covers a wide variety of financial transactions designed to hide or invest the proceeds from criminal activity to evade detection or promote the continuation of unlawful activity.
Money laundering charges can be brought for what one might consider “traditional” money laundering—that is, filtering the proceeds of criminal activity through a legitimate business to “cleanse” the proceeds. But they can also be brought for other, less obvious acts, like depositing proceeds into a larger bank account and using that account to engage in normal business activities, or structuring transactions to avoid triggering certain reporting requirements that banks or other financial institutions may have for certain high-value transactions.