The Money Laundering Control Enhancement Act of 2009 & The Money Laundering Correction Act of 2009 seek to expand the scope of 18 U.S.C. § 1956, the current money laundering statute, by amending the term “proceeds” to include the gross receipts of a criminal activity. Additionally, the House bill modifies the statute to no longer require the defendant to have purposely concealed ill-gotten money, but rather to make evidence that the money was hidden sufficient for a conviction.
The two bills are an attempt to legislatively reverse two recent Supreme Court decisions regarding the money laundering statute. In United States v. Santos, 128 S. Ct. 2020 (2008), the Court specifically limited the word “proceeds” in § 1956(a) to mean profits and refused to include gross receipts within the statute’s scope. During that same term, in Cuellar v. United States, 128 S. Ct. 1994 (2008), the Court held that the mere secretive transportation of cash was not sufficient for a money laundering conviction under § 1956. Instead, the government must prove that the purpose of the transportation was to conceal the nature, location, or ownership of criminal proceeds.
NACDL believes that reversing the Cuellar decision would cast the money laundering net far too wide and result in convictions of persons who were carrying the alleged proceeds without any direct proof that the money came from drugs or other specified crimes. Furthermore, granting the government the ability to charge for both the underlying offense and money laundering for the gross receipts of the underlying offense would be “tantamount to double jeopardy.” Santos, 128 S. Ct. at 2022. For these reasons, NACDL opposes the expansion of the federal money laundering statute as proposed by S. 378 and H.R. 1793.
S. 378 is currently pending before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, while H.R. 1793 is before the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.
Resources on S. 378 and H.R. 1793
NACDL, Money Laundering Opposition Handout
Related bills S. 386 & H.R. 1748