The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 strengthens the government’s ability to track down financial records from foreign banks. This new power could have important implications for white collar crime investigations.
Money laundering investigations
Money laundering is a crime in which a party attempts to conceal funds obtained through illegal means by using them in transactions that appear to be legal, and therefore do not attract unwanted attention from law enforcement. In a relatively straightforward example, a drug trafficker might take the funds generated by selling illegal narcotics, use them to purchase real estate and then sell the real estate to an associate. A large deposit of cash might not attract attention if it appears to come from a legitimate real estate transaction, and so law enforcement cannot trace the money back to the illegal activity.
Over the past 20 years, law enforcement has grown more sophisticated in the ways it tracks down money laundering and federal law has given investigators broad powers.
For many years, the federal government has had the power to subpoena records from foreign banks that have a correspondent relationship with a U.S. bank. Until recently, this subpoena power applied only to records that were directly related to the correspondent relationship.
The Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, which went into effect at the beginning of this year, expands this subpoena power to cover almost any kind of financial record from the foreign bank, not just those that are directly related to the correspondent relationship. Foreign banks that refuse to comply can lose their ability to do business in the United States.
The new law gives federal agencies even more power to investigate financial transactions that they suspect to be evidence of money laundering and other offenses.
It takes great knowledge and skill to find these records and to explain them to a court. Prosecutors have great resources at their disposal and are very adept at using complex financial records to make a case against a defendant. A person who is charged with money laundering and related crimes needs help from a defense attorney who is equally skilled and knowledgeable.
If your or a loved one are under investigation for money laundering or asset forfeiture, contact us today. We can help.