Property (money) laundering involves hiding, disguising or legitimizing the true origin and ownership of money used in or derived from committing crimes. It is an extremely diverse activity that is carried out at various levels of sophistication and plays an important role in organised crime.
There is no single method of laundering property or money. Money launderers often use the banking system and money transfer services. However they are imaginative and are constantly creating new schemes to circumvent the counter measures designed to detect them.
Money laundering schemes may include moving money to create complex money trails, making it difficult to identify the original source and breaking up large amounts of cash and depositing the smaller sums in different bank accounts in an effort to place money in the financial system without arousing suspicion.
We at AH2 Legal have come across many cases where innocent people have been framed or inadvertently dragged into criminal proceedings relating to property laundering or dealing with proceeds of crime because of their misplaced trust in others or because of their own careless mistakes.
Consider the following scenarios that we often come across:
A friend gives you some money to hold for safekeeping or to temporarily keep because he or she is unable to get to the bank in time. You want to help your friend and do him or her a favour as a friend. You trust your friend and feel embarrassed to ask him or her any questions about why there is so much cash or where the money has come from for fear of looking like a bad friend. You are unaware of where the money is from. This money could be the proceeds of a crime (from the sale of illegal items or prohibited goods) or it could have even been stolen.
Following a public tip off or action from police surveillance – you might get searched by police or have a search warrant executed on your property whereby the police may raid your property to locate the cash and might subsequently charge you for money laundering or dealing with proceeds of a crime.
Some people like to keep a lot of cash in hand – believing that “cash is king” and that it is convenient to have large amounts of cash in hand for spending on goods and paying for services.
Following a public tip off or action from police surveillance – those people who have a large sum of cash in hand might get searched by police or have a search warrant executed for their property whereby the police may raid their property to locate cash and might subsequently charge those people for keeping large amounts of cash on the suspicion that the cash are proceeds of crime or that they are money laundering.
The offence of property laundering is defined under section 563A of the Criminal Code Act Compilation Act 1913 (the Criminal Code) as follows:
563A. Property laundering
- A person who—
- in Western Australia engages, directly or indirectly, in a transaction that involves; or
- brings into Western Australia, or in Western Australia receives, possesses, conceals, disposes of or deals with,
any money or other property that is the proceeds of an offence is guilty of a crime and is liable to imprisonment for 20 years.
The offence of holding or dealing with money used in connection with a crime is defined under section 563B of the Criminal Code as follows:
563B. Dealing with property used in connection with an offence
- A person who deals with any money or other property that is being used, or is intended to be used, in connection with an offence is guilty of a crime and is liable to imprisonment for 20 years.
In general, the elements of the aforementioned offences are:
- The existence of money or property;
- A dealing, that being physical conduct, such as possessing the money or property, concealing or disposing it or engaging in banking transactions;
- The dealing in money or property being unlawful because the proceeds are proceeds of crime or the proceeds are at risk of being used in the commission of or to facilitate a crime; and
- The person believing that the money was the proceeds of a crime or being reckless or negligent about that fact.
A person commits an offence of money laundering if the person deals with money or other property that is, or is reasonably suspected of being, the proceeds of crime, and one of the following states of mind is present:
- intentionality: the money or property is, and is believed to be, proceeds of crime, or the person intends that the money or property will become an instrument of crime;
- recklessness: the money or property is proceeds of crime, or there is a risk that it will become an instrument of crime, and the person is reckless to this fact; or
- negligence: the money or property is proceeds of crime, or there is a risk that it will become an instrument of crime, and the person is negligent as to this fact.
The outcomes in money laundering cases generally depends on the value of the money or property involved on a case by case basis. The range of potential penalties are also reliant on the person’s state of mind as different penalties exist based on whether the dealing with the proceeds of crime was done so intentionally, recklessly or negligently.
If you have been charged with property laundering or dealing with the proceeds of crime, you should immediately seek legal advice in order to determine your next course of action. Time is of the essence in such matters and it is very important that you get timely and appropriate legal advice as soon as possible.
Our lawyers at AH2 Legal stand ready to immediately assist you should you require our services. Feel free to talk to us now at ☎️(08) 6161 0243 or 📧 firstname.lastname@example.org for any inquiries.