Pile of money

Money-laundering has become more common both here and in countries around the world. If you have a load of cash that you want to make sure doesn’t end up in the hands of the Internal Revenue Service or you want to keep it away from your wife and kids, what do you do? Some people choose to launder their money, making it much less traceable.

How Much Money Is Laundered?

The world leader in money laundering is China. It is estimated that between 2002 and 2011, over $1 trillion left the country by illegal means. This is in spite of laws requiring that anyone exchanging over $50,000 worth of yuan into another currency is required to have a permit.

During the same period of time, Russia saw $880.96 billion leave the country illegally, and $461.86 billion left Mexico. Who’s having their money laundered? Everyone from drug cartels to corrupt politicians to those owing alimony.

What Is the United States Doing to Stop Money-Laundering?

In 2010, the U.S. government passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. This act required foreign banks to pass on information to the U.S. for any accounts that are held by U.S. citizens. However, if someone is willing to violate the law, there are a number of ways for someone to launder one's money.

What Are Some Types of Money-Laundering Schemes?

There are many ways that money-laundering can happen. Here’s one example: Perhaps you live in China. You want to make sure a massive bribe is hidden from authorities. This is when a “junket” comes in. A junket is an agent in China who will exchange your money casino chips. You go to a casino that will cooperate with you. You gamble and cash your chips into U.S. dollars. You can then make a deposit into a Hong Kong bank.

Another example involves using a “smurf.” A smurf is someone who helps people launder their money by making small deposits into a bank account every day. By keeping the deposits low, it’s less likely to attract attention. When money is needed, the bank can wire-transfer the money to a shell company or offshore accomplices.

Have You Been Charged with Money-Laundering?

Money-laundering is a serious crime, with significant penalties. Fighting such a charge can be difficult without an attorney who is experienced in such cases. By using an attorney with a successful track record, you may have a better chance at mitigating the penalties.