Schedule a Free Initial Consultation

Money Laundering is a White Collar Crime

Money laundering is a practice that strives to disguise illegally obtained money so that it appears to be from a legitimate source, such as an investment fund or real estate purchase. It is sometimes used to fund other criminal activities, such as drug trafficking and terrorism.

money laundering

Even though the money that has been “laundered” can financially support other types of crimes, money laundering itself is a type of white-collar crime. In this article, we’ll explore more about money laundering, why it’s a white-collar crime, and discuss famous money laundering cases.

What is White Collar Crime?

White-collar crime refers to a broad range of non-violent criminal activities which are typically committed by individuals or businesses in professional environments such as offices or corporations. It generally involves the use of deceitful tactics in order to obtain financial gain without resorting to violence.

It encompasses many different types of crimes such as:

  • Frauds related to financial transactions (e.g., embezzlement)
  • Organized crime (e.g., insider trading)
  • Bribery (e.g., kickbacks)
  • Intellectual property theft

Although white-collar crimes are typically non-violent crimes, they can still include risks that may lead to violence. With large amounts of money involved, there can be serious implications that damage victims’ lives and finances.

Penalties for Money Laundering

Money laundering is a crime that law enforcement agencies will pursue aggressively. Prosecutors routinely seek imprisonment for those charged, in addition to steep fines and restitution. Money Service Businesses (MSB) are governed by Georgia law and federal authorities.

For example, 2022 Georgia Code Title 7 – Banking and Finance 7-1-914. Civil Penalties; Action for Recovery, states:

  1. For each willful violation of this article, the commissioner may assess upon any financial institution and upon any director, officer, or employee thereof who willfully participates in the violation a civil penalty not exceeding $1,000.00.
  2. In the event of the failure of any person to pay any penalty assessed under this Code section, a civil action for recovery thereof may, in the discretion of the commissioner, be brought in the name of the State of Georgia.
  3. Whoever conducts or attempts to conduct a transaction described in subsection (c) of Code Section 7-1-915 is liable to the State of Georgia for a civil penalty of not more than the amount of the funds involved in the transaction or $10,000.00, whichever is greater.

2022 Georgia Code Title 7 – Banking and Finance Chapter 7 – Loan Brokers § 7-7-6. Penalties states Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $5,000.00 or by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years, or both.

It is important for individuals facing criminal allegations of a white collar crime to find an attorney who is able to protect their rights. At Phillips Carson Phillips, located in Savannah, Georgia, our lawyers offer defenses against a variety of white collar charges.

Famous Money Laundering Cases

Many money laundering cases have received significant media attention once they’ve been caught. Here are some of the more well-known money laundering cases you might have heard of:


The DEA exposed the American bank Wachovia’s involvement in a money laundering scheme with the Mexican and Colombian drug cartels that took place between 2004 and 2007. The bank processed at least $110 billion USD in drug money. The United States charged the banking with money laundering. Wachovia Corp. settled the case against them by paying $160 million.

Al Capone

Experts believe that the mobster Al Capone laundered $1 billion through cash-operated laundromats. Although Al Capone ended up facing indictment on tax evasion in 1931, he is largely associated with money laundering through his laundromat businesses. Some people think that the term “money laundering” comes from him.

Contact a Savannah Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with the crime of money laundering, it is critical to contact a strong criminal defense lawyer who can help you. Here in Georgia, Savannah based law firm Phillips Carson Phillips is familiar with defending against money laundering and white collar crime.

Contact Phillips Carson Phillips by calling (912) 232-0081 or using our online contact form to schedule a consultation today. Our dedication and experience providing expert criminal defense for people charged with white-collar crimes makes us a good choice. We can help.