Federal and state authorities have a diverse arsenal of criminal statutes
at their disposal to indict financial operations and seize assets via
forfeiture proceedings if they prove wrongdoing. But proof of criminal
activity in such cases almost always involves a precise assessment of
financial records and sequences of events. Such is the case with 18 U.S.C.
§ 1960(a), which makes it a crime to knowingly conduct, control,
manage, supervise, direct or own all or part of a money transmitting business
without a proper license. And such is the case with Florida Statute §
560.125, which makes it a crime to engage in a money services business
without a license.
Transmission of funds is particularly popular within immigrant communities,
as individuals who work hard in the U.S. need a convenient means to send
money home to family members. Likewise, businesses with foreign suppliers
need a dependable way to responsibly remit payments. Many businesses provide
such services in the heart of immigrant communities, including bodegas,
travel agencies and other locations. But federal and state laws have imposed
licensing requirements in an effort to protect unwary consumers and monitor
the flow of cash.
Prosecutors often try to come down heavily on businesses that they suspect
of illegal money transfer activity, but a full review of the circumstances
of every alleged offense is crucial. For instance, a business may be accused
of illegal activity and threats of forfeiture even though it fails to
meet the statutory definition of a money transmitting business. One precise
requirement under the federal law is that receipt of funds from the customer
must precede the transfer of funds to the destination. Also, the transfer
of funds into the U.S. is not regulated under section 1960. And, under
both federal and Florida law, if the money transmittal is incidental to
the business, licensure is not required.
These are just three examples of legitimate defenses that can help an individual
or a business defeat charges while avoiding a protracted court battle,
seizure of business assets and possible incarceration. When a party finds
itself under investigation, the first step is to consult with a criminal
defense attorney and assemble a defense strategy.
Fighting Unfounded Charges of Financial Crimes With Legal Experience
Financial crimes for individuals and companies come in many forms, from
money laundering, money transmittal and
wire fraud to import/export crimes and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices
Act (FCPA). In every case, full disclosure of your concerns to an experienced
criminal defense lawyer can provide helpful information and dispel the
cloud of what may seem like the government's presumption of guilt.
With protection from a law firm that knows the law, understands how to
evaluate complex financial records and has extensive experience in cases
involving allegations of money crimes, an accused person or business can
take steps to avoid a costly shutdown of a profitable service. State and federal
financial crimes statutes are complex for a reason: forfeiture is a severe legal measure
that strikes at the heart of free enterprise. For that reason, an aggressive
response based on a sound legal strategy is crucial.