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Overview of money laundering laws

Seattle residents who been accused of financially motivated criminal activities may be handed a charge for money laundering. Laws against money laundering have made it illegal for a person to transfer money that was derived from criminal activities in an effort to hide the origin of the money. When the first anti-money laundering laws were enacted, they were meant to hinder organized crime.

Anti-money laundering laws began in the 1970s with the Bank Secrecy Act, and they were expanded over the next few decades. The initial laws required financial institutions to report cash transactions that were over a certain dollar amount or suspicious for other reasons. The Patriot Act that was passed by Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks expanded anti-money laundering laws. Now, financial institutions can be liable for criminal activities if they do not report money laundering. Financial institutions now have more requirements for checking and verifying the identities of their customers.

There are some financial institutions that are not covered by anti-money laundering laws. While banks, securities brokers, credit card issuers and insurance companies must comply with the BSA and the Patriot Act, these laws do not regulate the activities of transfer agents and investment advisers.

A person who is facing charges for this type of federal white collar crime may want to have representation from a criminal defense attorney. An attorney may be able to help the defendant to assert that the activities were investment activities that are not subject to anti-money laundering laws. If there were third parties involved, an attorney may argue that the defendant was not aware that any of the money transfers or investments were unlawful.

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