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What is dirty money, and how does it apply to money laundering?

Money laundering is a crime in which "dirty" money is transferred through a series of transactions for assets or cash. The money is called dirty money because it is derived from criminal activities.

There are a number of anti-money laundering laws that have been passed to penalize those who participate in this act. Interestingly, while the crime may be centuries old, the first time that anti-money laundering laws were created was in the 1970s. That's when the Bank Secrecy Act was developed. The act includes a series of laws that make it necessary for financial institutions, like banks, to report certain kinds of transactions to the U.S. Department of Treasury.

What kinds of transactions are reported to the U.S. Department of Treasury?

Presently, large cash transactions have to be reported. These are transactions of $10,000 or more. Suspicious transactions must also be reported. These may include transactions that are unusual for a certain person, like a large deposit when they usually deposit only a few hundred.

In 1989, money laundering became a crime in the United States. The laws have been further strengthened over the years with the latest addition being the USA Patriot Act. This act further regulates financial transactions.

What should you do if you're accused of money laundering?

The first thing you should do if you're accused of any crime is to stay quiet until you speak with your attorney. Anything you say can be used against you, so it's best to wait to speak to anyone who is interested in the case until you've had time to learn more about your rights.

Source: FindLaw, "Money Laundering," accessed Aug. 24, 2017

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