In its broadest sense, the State of New York has defined money laundering to be the deliberate use of deceit in order to conceal the source, ownership, or final destination of money or financial instruments when the origin or ultimate destination of an asset was in support of an ongoing criminal enterprise.
After September 2001, New York amended its existing money laundering laws to include a new crime now known as “Money Laundering in Support of Terrorism” and has made it even easier to charge an individual under these new laws than was the case under the original money laundering statutes. As an example, if an individual knowingly engages in money laundering without knowledge that the financial assets involved were to be used for carrying out an act of terrorism, that individual is considered to have taken part in the act of terrorism.
In order for you to be convicted on a charge of money laundering in support of terrorism in the first degree, the State Prosecutor must prove that:
- You were a willing participant in a scheme that utilized money laundering to support and act of terrorism or to support an organization that advocated terrorism.
- You knew, or should have suspected, that a financial transaction in which you were an active participant was carried out in order to support an act of terrorism by either attempting to hide the source of the funds used in that financial transaction or to conceal the ultimate destination of those funds.
- You knew, or should have suspected, that a financial transaction in which you were an active participant was constructed in a manner that was intended to conceal those funds from the scrutiny of federal and/or state taxation agencies or from a federal or state law enforcement agency and the amount of cash and/or the value of property involved in the transaction was greater than $125,000.
If convicted on a charge of money laundering in support of terrorism in the first degree, you will face a potential prison sentence of up to 25 years, an additional 5 years of probation after sentence completion, and a fine of twice the value of the funds and/or property involved in the money laundering transaction.
In addition to prosecution in a New York State Court, you will probably also be indicted by a federal grand jury and thus be exposed to the risk of being tried in a federal court for essentially the same offense: money laundering and, most likely, a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act as well.
As in those charges of money laundering not alleged to be in support of terrorism, the burden of proof rests with the prosecution. This means that you do not have to prove your innocence but, rather, the state must prove your guilt. In general, the most successful defenses to money laundering charges are those that:
- Refute the prosecution’s claim that you were a willing participant in the money laundering scheme.
- Show that you had no reason to suspect that you were engaged in an illegal act.
- Attack the prosecution’s claim that the organization you are accused of supporting was, in fact, a terrorist organization.
Due to the certainty of severe penalties if you are convicted on a charge of money laundering in support of terrorism, it cannot be stressed strongly enough that you must secure the best NYC criminal lawyer to advise and represent you in all aspects of your trial.