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A Thorough Examination of the Stages of Money Laundering and Its Origins

The stages of money laundering have been somewhat romanticized by blockbuster movies and those addictive white-collar TV shows. However, the money laundering process is a lot less glamorous than it appears to be on TV. Newer shows like On My Block make cleaning cash look like a whirlwind adventure as a group of friends track down the stolen Rollerworld money and plot with Ruby’s abuela, figuring out how they can use it without drawing attention. 

But money laundering very rarely works like that in the real world. Texas takes money laundering very seriously. Even the United States Department of Treasury keeps its eyes peeled for money launderers. So if found guilty, you could be responsible for paying back a lot of money and spending some time behind bars. 

What is money laundering?

This serious crime isn’t as old as you may have thought. Meyer Lansky, a member of the Mafia only conceptualized the money laundering process to avoid Al Capone’s fate. Al Capone was convicted in 1931 for tax evasion. Lansky is credited with developing the first money-laundering scheme– hiding money in offshore accounts. But even then, the term “money laundering” didn’t really take off until 1973

Money laundering occurs when someone takes money gained through criminal activity like drug trafficking or theft, and “cleans” the money so it can be used without arousing suspicion. The money laundering process can take many different forms, but regardless, the consequences will be steep if you’re caught in Texas.

Other forms of money laundering

We’ve already introduced the first-ever money laundering tactic. But there are a few others that could lead to legal trouble. 

Structuring is another one of the most common forms of money laundering. During this process, the criminal breaks up the cash into smaller chunks and deposits money across several different accounts. Many money launderers do this because U.S. banks are legally obligated to report large cash transactions and any other suspicious activity. Some white-collar criminals also use currency exchange and wire transfers to get the job (the crime) done. 

Others still use money smugglers to clean their cash. Cash mules smuggle money over borders and deposit the money in countries that have less strict money laundering laws and enforcement. Many criminals do this because it’s difficult to trace, as law enforcement doesn’t have an IP address to help track down the money.

Stages of Money Laundering

Texas classifies money laundering as a white-collar crime. Money laundering is marked by the motivation of financial gain and pointed deceit. The stages of money laundering include three steps:

  1. Placement– The criminal moves cash from the original source to another location. This action is hidden through misreporting or obscured by valid exchanges. 
  2. Layering– The dirty money is used in banks, casinos, and stores which makes it difficult to track. 
  3. Integration– The money launderer puts the dirty money into circulation and leaves with clean, undetectable money that they can spend in large amounts without getting caught. 

Texas’ penalties for money laundering

If the state of Texas can prove you’ve done these things after gaining money illegally, you can expect to face swift and harsh penalties. Texas is hard on white-collar crime to reduce the number of occurrences there are. Sentencing is based on how much money you laundered. 

  • If a person is accused of laundering $1,500 to $20,000, he or she can face 180 days to two years in jail with fines up to $10,000.
  • If a person allegedly laundered $20,000 to $100,000, this is a third-degree felony that results in two to 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
  • If a person is accused of laundering $100,000 to $200,000, this is a second-degree felony with two to 20 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
  • If a person allegedly launders more than $100,000, it is a felony in the first degree. This carries a $10,000 fine and five to 99 years in jail.

Dallas white collar defense attorney

Money laundering is a serious offense that could upend your entire life. If you stand accused of money laundering, contact the law office of John R. Teakell to secure high-level legal counsel. John Teakell specializes in white-collar crime and with substantial experience as a federal prosecutor, he knows what to expect and how to create a winning defense to beat even the most experienced prosecutors. Call today to schedule a legal consultation, and learn more about what you can expect during your trial. He can also help represent those who unknowingly found themselves caught up in a money-laundering scheme and prove that any actions you carried out, were done without knowing a crime was being committed.

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