Money Laundering Defense
Freeman assists clients in anti-money laundering (AML) compliance and defending our clients’ interests in white-collar matters involving allegations of money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act violations.
- Our attorneys include former government trial attorneys, former law clerks to federal judges, law professors, and dual-credentialed CPAs with deep experience in white-collar defense, including money laundering. Nearly one-third of our attorneys serve as law professors at tier-one law schools.
- Our white-collar attorneys have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being named to U.S. News and World Report’s Best Lawyers in America list, Super Lawyers, and recognized by Chambers & Partners as among the leading attorneys in the United States, including for fraud representations.
- Freeman’s attorneys have extensive white-collar litigation experience in complex, sophisticated federal matters, including money laundering.
Freeman is a go-to white-collar boutique for companies, executives, and public officials facing sensitive money laundering investigations, prosecutions, and related litigation. Our white-collar defense attorneys are steeped in the law of money laundering, offering big-firm talent in a collaborative environment; think-tank intellect; and exacting analytical precision—we are the firm that clients seek out when the stakes are high and the issues are complex.
The right move at the right time can mean the difference between the right outcome and the wrong one. The initial response to a white-collar legal crisis can be critical. It requires an organized, strategic response, often on multiple fronts, framing the discourse and issues and initiating an investigation and counter-offensive. Many of our most successful representations never see the light of day. But when trial is necessary, we defend our clients zealously and strategically.
Federal Money Laundering Statutes
The first federal Anti-Money Laundering statute was enacted in 1986 with the passage of the Money Laundering Control Act (“MLCA”), codified at 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956 and 1957. The MLCA was amended in 1988 by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 (Pub. L. 100-690), which amended § 1956 to add a provision making it a crime to conduct or attempt to conduct a financial transaction involving the proceeds of criminal activity with the intent to violate § 7201 (attempted tax evasion) or § 7206 (false tax return) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. The MLCA was further amended in 1992 by the Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act and the money laundering laws have been amended and supplemented in other subsequent enactments, including the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AMLA), which marked the most significant changes to federal anti-money laundering laws since the USA Patriot Act of 2001.
Federal AML requirements impose a host of standards and requirements, including counter-terrorist financing (CTF) regimes, know-your-customer rules (KYC), as well as Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC) and Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) obligations. Risk-based money laundering compliance programs must generally include Customer Identification Program (CIP), Customer Due Diligence (CDD), and Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) policies and procedures.
Section 1956 criminalizes four “types” of money laundering—promotional, concealment, structuring, and tax evasion laundering of the proceeds generated by designated federal, state, and foreign underlying crimes (predicate offenses)—committed or attempted under one or more of three jurisdictional conditions (i.e., laundering involving certain financial transactions, laundering involving international transfers, and stings).
Its companion, 18 U.S.C. § 1957, prohibits depositing or spending more than $10,000 of the proceeds from a predicate offense.
§ 1960 outlaws conducting or owning an unlicensed money transmitting business. “Money transmitting” is defined broadly by way of a nonexclusive list of examples, such as checks and wire transfers, and includes virtual currency such as Bitcoin.
The Bank Secrecy Act
The Bank Secrecy Act under Title 31 also governs money laundering and currency transactions. The BSA established requirements for recordkeeping and reporting by private individuals, banks and other financial institutions. The BSA requires information reports, including:
- Bank Secrecy Act information includes Currency Transaction Reports (CTR);
- Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR);
- Reports of Cash Payments Over $10,000 Received in a Trade or Business (Form 8300);
- Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR);
- Registration of Money Services Business (RMSB), and
- Report of International Transportation of Currency and Monetary Instrument (CMIR).
26 U.S.C. § 6050I: Report of Cash Payments
26 USC §6050I of the Internal Revenue Code also contains reporting requirements with respect to a Form 8300, Report of Cash Payments Over $10,000 Received in a Trade or Business.
Common Lesser-Included Offenses in the Money Laundering Context
In addition to the criminal penalties under §§1956, 1957, and 1960, lesser-included offenses in money laundering investigations include:
- 18 USC §2 (aiding and abetting)
- 18 USC §371 or 18 USC §1956(h) (conspiracy)
- 18 USC §1001 (false statements)
- 18 USC §1510(b)(3)(B)(i) (obstruction of 18 USC §1956 or 18 USC §1957 or Title 31 investigations)
- 18 USC §1621 (perjury)
- 18 USC §1960 (illegal money transmitting business)
- 31 USC §5322 (Title 31 criminal penalties)
- 31 USC §5324 (structuring)
- 31 USC §5332 (bulk cash smuggling)
- 18 USC §1028 and 18 USC §1028A (identity theft)
Clients look to Freeman when the stakes are high and the issues are complex. Our attorneys bring a host of intangibles, as well as pedigreed credentials and insight.
Experience Against the Government. Our attorneys have experience navigating, and defending against, a range of government agencies, including the:
- Department of Justice (DOJ)
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC)
- Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
- State Agencies
Freeman’s white-collar attorneys also assist corporate and individual clients with responses to government inquiries, including Department of Justice investigations, federal agency investigations, and investigations carried out by state Attorneys General.
High stakes. Government investigations and prosecutions can represent an existential threat. And a white-collar investigation can be a life-altering event. Whether the investigation results in an indictment or not, it can be expensive, protracted, and stressful. Our firm is accustomed to handling complex, sensitive matters; we were designed for bet-the-company proceedings.
Strategic Representation. White-collar investigations test savvy and strategic thinking, necessitating tactical navigation of complex factors. We work collaboratively, developing a strategic plan of attack. Recognizing that indictments in many white-collar matters can be almost as devastating as convictions, we proactively investigate the facts, develop viable defenses, and engage the government in an effort to stop prosecutions short of an indictments.
White-collar matters often involve simultaneous and parallel criminal, regulatory and civil proceedings. Freeman can navigate the complexities and collateral consequences of multiple proceedings. And when it comes to the court of public opinion, we employ ethical and strategic tactics to manage publicity.
Proactive. Our attorneys at Freeman employ a proactive approach to defend and strategically position our clients. Our attorneys often initiate interaction with federal and local prosecutors, regulatory agencies, congressional investigators, and the media. The stigma of criminal accusations can impact anyone, especially professionals. Where appropriate, we seek early and rapid intervention, counteracting the impact of an investigation before it becomes public.
Judgment. Our attorneys exercise sound judgment and discretion. Ultimately, our credibility is our most important attribute. We build upon it through discerning judgment and considered analysis.
Connected. Our lawyers are connected, as former government trial attorneys, former federal court law clerks, law professors at top-tier law schools, and leaders in positions of influence in public organizations. We use our firsthand knowledge of government agencies and their investigative protocols to navigate our clients through the morass, leveraging our government experience and contacts.
- RICO. Represented client in RICO suit involving millions of dollars in alleged fraudulent transfers.
- White-Collar Government Litigation. Represented clients in litigation with Department of Justice regarding Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) monetary penalty; obtained removal of judgment against individual client and 97% reduction of penalty for remaining clients.
- White-Collar Criminal Defense. Lead criminal defense counsel for client indicted for allegedly hacking Microsoft and EA Sports company servers and illegally obtaining more than $20 million of virtual currency laundered through Russian and Chinese secondary markets. Obtained resolution of no prison time for client.
- Government Fraud. Represented client in federal investigation into alleged conspiracy to commit government fraud through improper loans.
- White-Collar Criminal Defense; Parallel Proceedings. Represented client in multiple, parallel federal proceedings, including federal criminal proceedings and indictment for bankruptcy fraud and money laundering; SEC securities fraud proceedings; and federal civil action for alleged $200 million fraud. Obtained dismissal from federal suit alleging $200 million damages and release of client from prison.
- Healthcare Fraud. Represented client in federal investigation regard Medicare and Medicaid fraud, alleging overbilling.
- Criminal Tax. Represented attorney in federal indictment for tax evasion.
- Criminal Tax. Represent client in alleged $12 million tax evasion.
- Criminal Tax Investigation; Non-Prosecution. Represented client in criminal tax investigation by IRS Criminal Investigation Division involving allegations of income tax evasion; “killed investigation,” obtaining agreement from IRS CID not to seek prosecution against client.
- Tax Litigation; Wrongful Seizure. Recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars as lead counsel in suit against United States/IRS and Department of Justice for wrongful collection activities and seizure of assets.
- Criminal Tax Investigation; Non-Prosecution. Represented client in criminal tax referral involving allegations of income tax evasion; “killed case,” obtaining declination to prosecute client from United States Attorneys Office.
- State Criminal Tax Investigation; Non-Prosecution. Represented client in state criminal tax investigation and obtained dismissal of charges.
- Criminal Tax Investigation; Non-Prosecution. Represented client in federal criminal investigation related to alleged healthcare fraud and false statements, and obtained non-prosecution.
- White-Collar Criminal Defense. Represented client in federal criminal charges involving alleged mail and wire fraud, money laundering, and false statements related to Federal Election Code and political action committees.
- White-Collar Criminal Defense; Non-Prosecution. Represented client in grand jury investigation with respect to allegations of perjury, obstruction of justice, and financial kickback scheme, obtaining United States Attorneys Office’s agreement not to prosecute.
- White-Collar Criminal Defense. Represented client accused of bank fraud involving in excess of $50 million.
- Criminal Tax Defense. Represented client as criminal counsel in federal criminal case in United States Virgin Islands involving allegations of criminal tax evasion and conspiracy.
- Appellate. Served as lead appellate counsel in federal court of appeals (Third Circuit Court of Appeals, St. Croix, USVI), providing oral argument in federal tax case.
- Federal Criminal Defense. Following appointment as counsel, initiated investigation and obtained release of client from prison after uncovering wrongful investigative actions and entrapment.
- IRS “SEP” Audit/Investigations. Represented client in Special Enforcement Program (“SEP”) audit/investigation involving millions of dollars of alleged unreported income and several million dollars of unpaid tax and assessments; obtained deal to avoid criminal referral and avoidance of fraud penalties.
- • IRS International Penalty Defense and Voluntary Disclosure. Represented client in IRS offshore voluntary disclosure, guiding client through an “opt out” and reducing penalties by hundreds of thousands of dollars through penalty defense.
- Criminal Tax Defense. Represented client against criminal tax evasion charges involving allegations of the evasion of tax in excess of $1.5 million. Obtained result of no prison time.
- IRS Voluntary Disclosure/Cryptocurrency. Represent client in IRS voluntary disclosure involving multi-million-dollar cryptocurrency holdings.