Money laundering is the practice of taking money received for a criminal act and getting it into the financial system in a way that makes it look like it was legitimately earned. If you work in any branch of finance in Iowa, you are probably well aware of the many safeguards in place that attempt to protect against this crime, but for many people, these measures are invisible.
Examples of money laundering
Money laundering can be carried out in many different ways. For example, a person could pay cash for chips in a casino and then return the chips to get a check, making it appear as though the money was gained from gambling. They could use cash to purchase jewels or other goods that are easy to transfer elsewhere. One of the most common methods of money laundering is to have a business with a lot of cash transactions that can be inflated as money is gradually added to the daily returns.
There are many measures in place that attempt to prevent money laundering or make it easier to detect. This includes raising an alert for transactions involving more than $10,000 and requiring Americans to report overseas bank accounts in excess of $10,000. However, the internet and electronic banking systems that accompany this technology have made the detection of money laundering much more difficult. For example, cryptocurrency payments can be made with very little evidence about where the money has come from. Money laundering has only been illegal in the United States for a few decades, and legal and financial systems have not yet fully addressed these challenges.
Identifying where money laundering is happening can be an important step in detecting terrorist networks or drug trafficking organizations. Although it is known as a white collar crime, penalties for money laundering can be serious.