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Money Laundering Charges Involving an Undercover Sting Operation

There are three main types of money laundering charges: domestic money laundering, international money laundering, and money laundering involving a sting operation. The third type of money laundering offense specifically involves a prosecution based on an undercover operation by law enforcement. This means that the unlawful financial transaction in question involved funds that were only represented as being the proceeds of specified unlawful activity, but far from being actually derived from a real crime, were actually undercover funds supplied by a government agency.

This element makes these types of prosecutions unique, because in most cases, prosecutors can only obtain a conviction for money laundering if they can prove that the funds involved in the transaction were actually the proceeds of a specific unlawful activity. However, this requirement is not necessary when a defendant is being charged with money laundering involving an undercover sting operation. Unfortunately, this makes it easier for innocent people to be convicted of money laundering, which is a serious white collar crime that comes with significant penalties, including fines and jail time. To ensure that you are not unfairly convicted of a crime that you didn’t commit, please contact a member of our dedicated white collar crime legal team today for advice.

Proceeds of a Crime

Unlike most money laundering prosecutions, which require proof that a defendant knew that the funds in question were the proceeds of an illegal activity, cases that involve sting operations don’t require evidence linking funds to an unlawful source. Instead, prosecutors only need to demonstrate that the funds were represented as being the proceeds of illegal activity by a federal officer who had authority to investigate or prosecute money laundering offenses.

Necessary Intent

In most money laundering trials, a person can be convicted as long as there is evidence that he or she knew that the transaction was designed to conceal the nature or source of the proceeds or to avoid a reporting requirement. Money laundering prosecutions involving a sting operation are a bit different, as knowledge of the purpose of the transaction or the source of the funds is not enough to obtain a conviction. Instead, prosecutors must be able to prove that a defendant specifically intended to:

  • Promote a specific unlawful activity;
  • Conceal the source, location, or ownership of the proceeds of unlawful activity; or
  • Avoid a transaction reporting requirement.

Although many of the elements required to obtain a conviction for a money laundering offense involving an undercover sting operation differ from those that are required for domestic or money laundering charges, the penalties for conviction remain just as severe. For instance, violating this federal law can result in a 20 year prison sentence and a fine of either $500,000 or double the amount involved in the alleged transaction, whichever amount is greater. Defendants also face civil penalties, as those who are convicted are liable to the U.S. for a fine of $10,000 or the value of the funds used in the transaction.

Call Today for a Free Consultation

To speak with dedicated white collar crime attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. in Miami about your own pending money laundering charges, please call (305) 670-9919 or send us an online message today.


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