Money laundering is the practice which involves making money from one source appear to come from another source, on purpose.
This activity is illegal because in most cases, it is carried out to hide cash obtained from illegal activities.
It is commonly used to disguise original ownership and control of the money obtained through illegal activity and make the source of the money appear to be legitimate.
There are stringent laws against money laundering in most countries worldwide, including Australia.
Money Laundering Laws
Money laundering laws in Australia are tough and designed to discourage money laundering. Money Laundering Laws are either State or Commonwealth Crimes.
The legislative intent defines two categories of individuals facing money laundering charges;
- To stop the people who commit serious offences from sending the illegally obtained money overseas or making the money seem to derive from a legitimate source;
- To stop third parties from assisting people in sending the illegally obtained money overseas or assisting in making the money look legitimately obtained.
Money Laundering Charges
Under both the State and Commonwealth law, money laundering charges are complex.
A gradation exists in the seriousness of the offence. The court must first and foremost establish how much money is in involved in the offence.
In addition, the court must also establish the level of knowledge the person had of the illegally obtained money, whether it was reckless or intentional. One can be charged with the least serious money laundering offences if they are found to have been reckless.
The prosecution must prove to the court that the accused dealt with proceeds of crime either knowing they were proceeds of crime or that they were reckless.
Proceeds of Crime and the Law
Once a person is facing charges of money laundering, the Crime Commission usually gets Seizure Orders which they obtain from the Supreme Court, which restrains the sale or disposal of the person’s property.
A person’s property may include cars, houses, jewellery, shares among others. The accused must submit information regarding their financial affairs. People can also be compelled to give evidence at the Crime Commission.
Alternatively, you can be examined in the Supreme Court. If you give false or misleading information, you may face imprisonment or pecuniary penalties.
Orders can also be made for the forfeiture of property that was obtained illegally.
Money Laundering Defence
Defences available would be;
Penalty for Money Laundering
The Law provides that anyone dealing with the proceeds of a crime (laundered money) with the knowledge that it is proceeds of a crime, and intends to conceal this fact is guilty of an offence.
The maximum penalty for money laundering is twenty years’ imprisonment according to the Crimes Act of the State law, and twenty-five years under the Commonwealth Criminal Code. The penalty can also be accompanied by the freezing and seizure of assets on an interim basis, and forfeiture of assets on a final basis.
In addition to that provision, it is also an offence to deal with the proceeds of a crime without concealing this fact or being reckless as to whether the money or property you are dealing with are proceeds of a crime.
The maximum penalty of this offence upon conviction is ten years’ imprisonment.
Lesser offences include dealing in property for which there are reasonable grounds to suspect that it is the proceeds of a crime. The penalty for this crime is a maximum of two years in prison.
Getting a Lawyer for Money Laundering Charges
If you have been charged with a money laundering offence you should immediately get a lawyer.
Confidentiality is key especially when it comes to criminal cases, thus you should get a lawyer who is known to be confidential in handling his or her cases.
You can challenge the restraining orders that prevent you from accessing your assets. With a good reason you will be able to access your property as the court proceedings are in progress.
Money laundering is a serious offense that could have a huge impact on your life, in light of this, it is best to seek legal representation because so much is at stake.