Both federal and Missouri state laws contain prohibitions against money laundering. Generally, this crime consists of purposely concealing the illegal provenance of funds.
The Missouri statute applies the label of money laundering to transactions that aim to support criminal activity, to conceal the source of the money, to avoid reporting requirements or to fund terrorism. Federal distinguishes among three types of money laundering, each of which has somewhat differing criteria.
Federal money laundering
Federal domestic money laundering means conducting a transaction while knowing that the funds in question stem from unlawful activity, and intending to promote a criminal activity listed in the statute, to engage in tax fraud, to conceal certain types of material facts about the criminal source of the money or to evade reporting requirements. If the transaction involves crossing borders, the statute against international money laundering may apply. Finally, federal law also makes it a crime to engage in money laundering when the funds in question actually come from undercover operatives, but the defendant believes them to proceed from a criminal activity.
Both federal and state money laundering charges often present complex legal and factual questions. The types of charges, as well as available penalties, may depend on issues regarding the defendant’s knowledge and intent.
Potential conspiracy or accomplice liability
Common sources of laundered funds include drug trafficking, illegal firearms trafficking and other types of contraband transactions. Therefore, in addition to the money laundering charges, an individual may face charges related to these crimes as well. Even if he or she did not otherwise participate in them, allegations of money laundering can mean conspiracy charges for other crimes, as the intent required for money laundering includes knowingly supporting criminal activity.
The penalties tend to be stiff, including as many as 20 years in prison and substantial fines. A defendant’s assets may also be subject to civil forfeiture; because a forfeiture case is technically a civil case against property rather than a criminal case against a person, fewer protections are available and such cases can be harder to fight.