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DOJ’s Robust Strategy: Leveraging Money Laundering Statutes to Combat Financial Crime

CryptoDOJ's Robust Strategy: Leveraging Money Laundering Statutes to Combat Financial Crime

The United States has a long history of enacting and amending federal statutes to combat money laundering, beginning with the Bank Secrecy Act in 1970 and the Money Laundering Control Act in 1986. These laws criminalize financial transactions associated with criminal activity and require financial institutions to take preventive measures.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) plays a vital role in coordinating efforts to combat money laundering both within the United States and globally. The Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) leads these efforts, collaborating with other divisions and U.S. Attorney’s Offices as needed. The DOJ has also created specialized units to address emerging threats, such as the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team to tackle cryptocurrency-related crime.

In January 2020, the DOJ updated its Justice Manual to ensure consistent application of money laundering statutes. This centralizes the review and approval of prosecutions under the Money Laundering Control Act within MLARS. The DOJ has also emphasized transparency and consistency in corporate criminal enforcement, as these policies are incorporated into the Justice Manual.

Recent trends in DOJ prosecutions include:

  1. More Aggressive Prosecutions: The DOJ is pursuing aggressive combinations of money laundering charges with wire fraud, securities fraud, tax fraud, and other charges to increase potential penalties for offenders.
  2. Focus on Cryptocurrency: The DOJ is intensifying efforts to combat illegal laundering schemes involving cryptocurrencies due to their growing role in the global economy.
  3. Sanctions Evasion: The DOJ is targeting individuals and entities aiding international terrorist organizations and sanctioned foreign state actors who use increasingly evasive methods to bypass sanctions.

Combining money laundering charges with other criminal charges, especially in fraud and tax cases, is a strategy employed to maximize potential penalties. The DOJ has also been proactive in prosecuting money laundering crimes involving digital assets, reflecting the significant role of cryptocurrencies in the global economy. Furthermore, prosecutions have been initiated against those assisting sanctioned nations and entities in evading sanctions.

Recent high-profile guilty pleas include individuals admitting to money laundering crimes related to their roles in various schemes. Additionally, significant court decisions have clarified legal matters, such as the applicability of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) in criminal proceedings, potentially impacting foreign-owned banks and financial institutions.

International cooperation remains crucial in the fight against money laundering, especially in the context of digital assets and financial crimes on digital platforms. The DOJ is working to strengthen international responses through recommendations for improved funding, communication, and uniform standards.

In conclusion, the DOJ’s recent actions and guidance demonstrate a clear strategy of leveraging money laundering statutes to prosecute various core crimes while pursuing key government objectives, such as regulating cryptocurrencies and combating international criminal organizations.

By FCCT Editorial Team

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity.

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