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People in Virginia might have heard the term "money laundering" when watching the news or various dramatic programs, but it can be difficult to fully understand what it means and entails. There are various different subsets of money laundering. One in particular is trade-based money laundering (TBML). This is a tactic that alleged criminals will use to hide possibly illegal financial gain through trade. It is not one single occurrence. Instead, it is the use of various methods to buy and sell illegal goods, issue false documents, and misrepresent the transactions to integrate their proceeds into the banking system.

In today's world, this act has grown to have a greater potency than simple financial gain for the participants, as terrorist organizations are known to use money laundering to finance their operations. It is believed that billions of dollars are involved in money laundering schemes on an annual basis. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses its Trade Transparency Unit to try to stop this type of activity.

These criminal acts involving TBML can reach a global scale and ICE will cooperate with similar units around the world to identify those who are believed to be taking part in these plots. Both aspects of a transaction will be studied to see if there are any red flags. This can involve goods, services and money. Red flags can be cash payments by unrelated entities; wire transfers from unrelated entities; checks or other methods of payment by unrelated entities; false reporting; "carousel transactions," which are importing and exporting commodities of high value; commodities trades that are not, on the surface, connected to the particular businesses; unusual locations for shipping and receiving; questionable packaging; and double-invoicing.

In some cases, there are people who are caught up in an investigation and confronted with allegations of money laundering when they thought they were involved with legitimate business partners and customers. In others, they might have been in a situation they should not have been in. This can lead to numerous white collar crime charges with significant potential punishments. Those who are faced with an investigation or accusations regarding their financial transactions cannot waste any time in lodging a defense. This is when it is of utmost importance to contact and speak to an attorney experienced in defending clients who are accused of charges related to money laundering.

Source:, "ICE leads trade-based money laundering investigations," accessed on April 5, 2016

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