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DC Federal Money Laundering Investigations

Washington DC Federal money laundering attorney David Benowitz discusses money laundering investigations.

How Are Money Laundering Cases Investigated?

David Benowitz: With money laundering, it’s a lot of the same typical investigation techniques that the government uses to trace the money. Bank records,  informants, and wiretaps or recorded phone conversations because sometimes it is cash that’s being moved around particularly in drug cases.

Then when they get to the final destination of that money they need to show, for example, that someone took proceeds made from selling narcotics and invested it in, for example, in real estate. You show that the money from the illegal sale of narcotics  made its way into this real estate transaction.

What Agencies Investigate Money Laundering Offenses?

David Benowitz: Typically, it’s the FBI and the DEA that deal with drug offenses. The IRS will get involved if there is a tax implication. Those are the typical agencies.

What Should You Look For in a Money Laundering Investigation?

David Benowitz: I think first when you look at the case, you want to determine if the government can prove that there was illegal activity going on. Then, I’d be looking at whether this person who engaged in this financial transaction had any knowledge where the money was derived from. Sometimes, even if the government can prove that the there was an illegal activity, the person who moved the money may not have known and that makes it much more difficult for the government to prove that a crime that occurred.

Once you identify an initial working theory about what your defense might be, for example, let’s say your defense is that the person didn’t have knowledge of it, then you want to delve into your client’s background, employment history, banking activity, and who else is involved in their life. Could there be someone else who really knew what was going on and they were using their client as the fall guy? You really want to investigate the case.

How Are Money Laundering Cases Defended?

David Benowitz: I think the key is the investigation. You have to know intimately about your client’s life about who’s in their life and who’s affecting their life to be able to show that a person didn’t have knowledge as to what was going on or to what level of knowledge they have.

Why Do Money Laundering Clients Choose to Work With You?

David Benowitz: I think because when I speak to them about it and we talk about their case, I think clients can see that I work very hard at this and  that I’m very interested in making sure that their best interest are served. My clients all have my cellphone number and they can call me anytime. I’m very invested in what happens with their case and I’m very invested in what happens with them in general.  Once I represent someone,  I’m really going to make every effort to make sure that they get the best result possible.

What Are Common Questions Individuals Charged with Money Laundering Ask You?

David Benowitz: The most common questions are if they are going to go to jail and everyone wants to know what the end result is going to be. They want to know what is going to happen. Sometimes, people don’t know that what they were doing was wrong and that’s happened before.

How Do You Respond to Those Questions?

David Benowitz: You can never just give sort of a one-word response and there’s never a definitive answer on what’s going to happen. There will be an answer but it’s going to take time to get it. We’re going to take it one day at a time. I tell them step by step what they can expect. As you get more information, you can give a better and more accurate prediction as to what’s going to happen.

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