U.S. Anti-Money Laundering Laws in the Wake of U.S. v. Santos by Carlos F. Gonzalez and Regan Kruse

Organized crime activities, such as drug trafficking, smuggling, prostitution rings, and illegal arms sales, can generate huge amounts of cash income. Seemingly legitimate business enterprises can also produce huge illicit profits though embezzlement, insider trading, bribery, and computer fraud schemes. The process by which one disguises illegal income to make it appear legitimate is an integral part of all proceeds-yielding crimes. Participants in illicit activities must create the illusion that their “dirty money” is actually clean, and thus, the moniker “money laundering” was coined.

In an attempt to combat this growing problem, Congress enacted the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 to make money laundering a federal crime. More recently, in May of 2009, Congress amended the money laundering statute to provide clarity and uniformity in defining “proceeds” that fall under The Act. At the center of the 2009 Amendment was a case, United States v. Santos, argued before the United States Supreme Court in 2008.

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