The Bank Secrecy Act is one that encompasses another white-collar crime. The Bank Secrecy Act is the act of laundering money. As defined by the law dictionary, it means “the act of transferring illegally obtained money through legitimate people or accounts to that its original source cannot be traced.” The federal government classifies this as a criminal act, and the Bank Secrecy Act covers a variety of methods used by money launderers to keep their funds from appearing illegally obtained. Its purpose is to hold financial institutions and/or individuals liable for assisting in the money laundering business by providing specific financial transactions during the laundering process.
Locating a money launderer and proving an individual or institution was responsible for helping launder dirty funds is difficult. When a system is complex, buried deeply, and ingrained so well into the typical world of legal finance, it makes it nearly impossible for lawmakers and investigators to find the source of the laundering despite their suspicions. Sometimes these investigations take years to complete as money trails are difficult to follow in many cases.
Understanding the Bank Secrecy Act
Before anyone can be charged with violating the Bank Secrecy Act, he or she must knowingly and willfully engage in transactions used to launder funds obtained through illegal manners. There are many people who engage regularly through their work at a bank, through their patronage at a specific business establishment, and in a variety of other methods with absolutely no knowledge that the funds they’re working with are illegally obtained and being laundered. These people might fall into the line of investigation during a money laundering scheme at some point, but their innocence is typically found. Those who engage in this act willfully and knowingly are tried for violation of the Bank Secrecy Act.
Anyone being tried for violating this act must also know they’re being investigated for other crimes. Money laundering cases most often include a variety of other crimes in addition to laundering and violating the Bank Secrecy Act, which means anyone being tried could be investigated for any of the following:
– Dealing drugs
Each of these crimes comes complete with its own legal ramifications, making it more likely a person’s charges are being increased to include further legal punishment. Many defendants question why someone who violates the Bank Secrecy Act is investigated for these crimes even if they had no direct hand in any of them. Anyone laundering money or assisting in the process knows the funds were obtained illegally, which makes them guilty by association to other crimes. Even if the violator of the Bank Secrecy Act had no knowledge of the means by which funds were illegally obtained, they know something occurred.
Penalties for Violating the Bank Secrecy Act
Various legal action is taken against anyone who willfully violates the Bank Secrecy Act, and they’re defined here.
– Willfully violating the Bank Secrecy Act results in up to five years in prison, a fine as high as $250,000, or a combination of both.
– Willfully violating the Bank Secrecy Act in addition to being charged with another criminal act in the process faces up to 10 years in prison, a fine as high as half a million dollars, or a combination of both.
– Willfully violating the Bank Secrecy Act in addition to being charged with another criminal act in the process as well as conspiracy faces up to 20 years in prison and a half million-dollar fine.
Money laundering and violation of the bank secrecy act are federal crimes appropriated by federal punishment. Anyone tried and found guilty of this act is going to face the maximum legal penalty as defined by the law. An experienced criminal defense attorney who has worked with defendants accused of violating the Bank Secrecy Act can help those accused find a defense, disprove the prosecution, or reduce the charges being brought against the defendant. A significant portion of a person’s life is spent in prison if found guilty of violating the Bank Secrecy Act, which is why many defendants want an experienced attorney.