Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's indictment on money laundering changes has brought some renewed public attention to the "crime" of structuring. As detailed here structuring is where an individual makes a cash withdraw or deposit (or a series of cash withdraws and/or deposits) below the $10,000.
Why $10,000? Because banks, and other financial institutions, are requited to file a "suspicious activity report" with the federal goverment. While sometimes people making large cash withdraws or deposits below $10,000 may be trying to hide some form of criminal activity (which may not necessarily be something that would be criminal in a free society), structuring allows the government to charge individuals with a crime and take their money simply for making large cash withdraws that do not have to be reported to the government!
So trying to protect your privacy? You may be a criminal...
One ironic aspect of the Hastert case is that, as Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert shepherded legislation strengthening the money laundering laws through Congress. This legislation eventually become part of the Patriot Act but was first voted on as stand alone legislation. The only member of Congress who voted against the "Financial Anti-Terrorism Act:" (SURPRISE!) Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul.
Here and below is Ron Paul's official statement on the Financial Anti-Terrorism Act:
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, the so-called Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 (H.R. 3004) has more to do with the ongoing war against financial privacy than with the war against international terrorism. Of course, the Federal government should take all necessary and constitutional actions to enhance the ability of law enforcement to locate and seize funds flowing to known terrorists and their front groups. For example, America should consider signing more mutual legal assistance treaties with its allies so we can more easily locate the assets of terrorists and other criminals.
Unfortunately, instead of focusing on reasonable measures aimed at enhancing the ability to reach assets used to support terrorism, H.R. 3004 is a laundry list of dangerous, unconstitutional power grabs. Many of these proposals have already been rejected by the American people when presented as necessary to ``fight the war on drugs'' or ``crackdown on white-collar crime.'' For example, this bill facilitates efforts to bully low tax jurisdictions into raising taxes to levels approved by the tax-loving, global bureaucrats of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development!
Among the most obnoxious provisions of this bill: codifying the unconstitutional authority of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCeN) to snoop into the private financial dealings of American citizens; and expanding the ``suspicious activity reports'' mandate to broker-dealers, even though history has shown that these reports fail to significantly aid apprehending criminals. These measures will actually distract from the battle against terrorism by encouraging law enforcement authorities to waste time snooping through the financial records of innocent Americans who simply happen to demonstrate an ``unusual'' pattern in their financial dealings.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to reject this package of unconstitutional expansions of the financial police state, most of which will prove ultimately ineffective in the war against terrorism. Instead, I hope Congress will work to fashion a measure aimed at giving the government a greater ability to locate and seize the assets of terrorists while respecting the constitutional rights of American citizens.
Tags: Ron Paul, USA PATRIOT Act, financial crimes