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What is money laundering?

Many people in Tennessee may have heard references to money laundering in the news or even in movies or television crime shows. But, do you really understand what is meant by the term? When someone is charged with a money laundering offense, what are they actually accused of having done?

The Internal Revenue Service explains that the basic definition of money laundering indicates it is the deliberate hiding of money or masquerading of money obtained through illegal means to make it look as though it was legally obtained. In addition to hiding the true source of money, people accused of laundering money are also often said to have underrepresented the value or amount of the money in order to avoid paying taxes or reduce the amount of taxes to be paid. In this way, the IRS views money laundering as a form of tax evasion. In fact, many people charged with money laundering are also charged with tax evasion for this reason.

Money laundering has been a criminal offense since the enactment of the Money Laundering Control Act in 1986. Investigations into suspected money laundering focus their efforts on tracking the movement of money. Financial records documenting deposits, transfers and withdrawals are reviewed in depth by authorities tracking people they believe may be involved in criminally hiding or moving money.

This content is not intended to provide legal advice but rather to give individuals in Tennessee an overview of what the term money laundering means and what types of acts may lead to accusations of money laundering.

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TBA | Tennessee Bar Association
CBA | Chattanooga Bar Association
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