People who make money illegally often try to pass it through a legitimate business. This makes it look like the money was generated through legal means. By investing money into the business, they can "launder" the money, making it look legal. This helps them use the money that they are making illegally without law enforcement agencies suspecting anything.
Racketeering is often associated with money laundering. Some examples of racketeering are drug trafficking and organized crime.
Money laundering cleans the money and hides the real source, which might be considered illegal. Financial experts are often hired by criminals to assist them in creating a network to facilitate this process. Money is usually transferred through different sources, so banks do not question the source. In some cases, offshore companies are created to look like businesses. False income statements are then generated to turn the illegal money into legal profits of the owner's business. The profits are then passed on to different accounts to avoid any suspicion by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS monitors financial activity and tries to find vulnerabilities in the fake financial network.
Money laundering is a federal crime and is taken very seriously by law enforcement agencies. The law prohibits financial transactions of money made through illegal activities. When charging someone with money laundering, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had prior knowledge of the source of money.
If you have been accused of money laundering, it is advisable to hire an experienced defense attorney. The attorney may be able to go through your case and help you fight the charges.