Is it possible to unwittingly launder money in Texas?

by | Aug 4, 2020 | White Collar Crimes

In short, it is technically possible to face a money laundering conviction in Texas even if you are not intentionally breaking the law; however, understanding State Penal Code definitions and laws surrounding this issue may shed light on your concerns.

Money laundering defined

Texas State Penal Code defines money laundering very broadly. Potentially any dealings with proceeds from criminal enterprises could be money laundering under the law. This may be in the form of financial transactions, purchases, investments or other facilitation.

An employee or accountant could potentially use your business to launder money without your knowledge. You could unwittingly invest the money of a criminal organization on a client’s behalf. You could unknowingly conduct transactions involving illegally-gotten funds. And you may be liable in some cases.

Liability examined

But with some exceptions, Texas does not hold people responsible unless they willfully engaged in these actions knowing or reasonably suspecting that the source of the money was criminal.

It is unlikely that you will face charges if you were truly and in good faith unaware of the sources of the funds. However, you do not need to know the exact nature of the criminal activity to be liable if you had reason to suspect that it was criminal.

Specific allowances in the law also dictate that you can be liable if a police officer or representative informs you that the money is from an illegal source — whether or not you know who the informant is.

Conclusion

While it is possible, it is unlikely that you would face charges of money laundering without your willful cooperation in the crime. However, for those who have any suspicion or reason to believe that money they are handling is criminal, it is advisable to cease cooperation as quickly as possible.

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