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Understanding New York's money laundering laws

Money laundering is a criminal offense that generally involves making a financial transaction with funds that someone gains through illegal means. Individuals and organizations can both commit money laundering to disguise the source, ownership, location or control of ill-gotten money.

The end-goal of money laundering is to make it seem like the funds come from a legitimate source. It is important for anyone under investigation or facing charges for money laundering in New York to understand what the state laws say about this crime.


According to New York laws, an individual commits money laundering when he or she is involved in at least one financial transaction with proceeds of criminal conduct with the intent to partake in a variety of actions. The law explains various scenarios and intentions that may constitute money laundering:

  • Engage in or promote criminal conduct
  • Conceal the nature of the proceeds
  • Avoid financial reporting requirements

The law states that financial transactions include deposits, payments, wire transfers, purchases, sales, extensions of credit, loans, currency exchanges and transfers of title. Additionally, many other acts by financial institutions may qualify as money laundering transactions. 


Money laundering is always a felony, but the level of the offense and consequences vary widely, depending on the amount of money involved, the origination of the proceeds and the goal of the offense. For example, harsher fines and sentences are possible when proceeds come from drug trafficking or selling controlled substances. Money laundering in the support of terrorism is its own specific offense.


Someone who faces money laundering charges may not necessarily end up with a conviction. A money laundering case may end up with a reduction in charges or complete acquittal. A defendant may be able to claim a lack of knowledge about the nature or source of the proceeds. Additionally, a lack of intent to disguise the source of money or carry out crimes may also be viable defenses. 

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