Federal money laundering laws cover too much peripheral conduct that the statutes and their draconian guidelines were not meant to address. Once a tool for drug or racketeering cases, these laws are now applied to a wide range of activities, including routine business transactions. As interpreted and applied, the current law is a cruel trap for unwary individuals and businesses that inflicts felony convictions, harsh and inflexible prison sentences, and ruinous asset forfeiture. The Department of Justice has failed to reign in this darling of the prosecutor’s nursery, allowing prosecutors to use the laws to coerce unfair plea agreements.
NACDL has proposed several technical statutory amendments to rectify the money laundering regime’s most serious flaws by simplifying and clarifying current law, facilitating compliance efforts by individuals and businesses, and by focusing federal law enforcement on serious misconduct. In addition, NACDL has worked to prevent Congress from expanding the federal money laundering statutes further.
Provided below are a sampling of news stories on federal money laundering, as well as the reports submitted by the Department of Justice, as required by the Fraud Enforcement & Recovery Act (FERA), to Congress detailing the number of authorization requests for prosecution where the money laundering charges merges with the underlying conduct, the approvals and denials, and the number of unauthorized prosecutions.
DOJ Reports to Congress As Required By FERA
DOJ FERA Report Submitted to Congress for May 2013 to May 2014 (April 21, 2015)
DOJ FERA Report Submitted to Congress for May 2012 to May 2013 (March 11, 2014)
DOJ FERA Report Submitted to Congress for May 2011 to May 2012 (March 12, 2013)
DOJ FERA Report Submitted to Congress for May 2010 to May 2011 (March 19, 2012)
DOJ FERA Report Submitted to Congress for May 2009 to May 2010 (Sept. 21, 2010)
News of Interest
“Border Businesses Lose Bank Accounts Amid Money Laundering,” NPR, January 4, 2015.
Bitcoin entrepreneur sentenced to two years for role in money laundering scheme, The Guardian, December 22, 2014 [Indictment].
FFIEC Releases Revised Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) Examination Manual (Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council), The National Law Review, December 20, 2014
Money laundering cases could bring feds $70 million, San Antonio Express, December 13, 2014.
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U.S. Money-Laundering Probe Touches Putin's Inner Circle, The Wall Street Journal, November 5, 2014.
Marijuana Money Is Still A Pot Of Trouble For Banks, Forbes, September 18, 2014.
FedEx Money-Laundering Charge Adds Pressure to Drug Case, Bloomberg, August 19, 2014.
Federal grand jury indicts former Holy Cow CEO on fraud, money-laundering charges, Sacramento Business Journal, August 15, 2014.
US uses new tactic to crack money laundering cases, CNBC, July 9, 2014.
Obama administration clears banks to accept funds from legal marijuana dealers, The Washington Post, February 14, 2014.
HSBC to Pay $1.92 Billion to Settle Charges of Money Laundering, The New York Times, December 10, 2012.
Banks Financing Mexico Gangs Admitted in Wells Fargo Deal, Bloomberg, June 29, 2010.
Tiffany Joslyn, FERA's Silver Lining - An Account of NACDL's Efforts Combating Overcriminalization, The Champion (August 2009).
"Kuehne Case 'Hanging on by a Thread'," Daily Business Review, January 5, 2009.
"Judge in Ben Kuehne Case Finds Feds' Charge 'Disturbing'," The Wall Street Journal, December 1, 2008.
"Scales of Justice: The Right to Counsel vs. the Need to Bar Tainted Legal Fees," The Wall Street Journal, November 20, 2008.
"Defense attorneys criticize charges," SunSentinel.com, September 6, 2008.
Peter Hardy, The Supreme Court Provides Post-Conviction Opportunities to Defendants Convicted of Money Laundering, September 5, 2008.
NACDL Money Laundering Task Force Report, Proposals to Reform the Federal Money Laundering Statutes, August 1, 2001.