Money laundering offenses

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Questions and answers:

What are money laundering offences?

The crime of money laundering is committed by a person who deals with property in order to conceal the fact that the property is derived from a crime or criminal activity or in order to promote the opportunity for someone to obtain the property or its value. The crime of money laundering thus requires that a financial benefit is first obtained through a crime, a so-called predicate offense. It is the subsequent actions taken with the property that can constitute money laundering. 

Pre-crime to money laundering offenses

In Sweden, theoretically all types of crimes can constitute predicate offenses to money laundering. All offenses that can give rise to proceeds are covered, which in addition to obvious possession and acquisition offenses also includes evasion offenses (tax offenses, customs offenses). This also applies to crimes committed abroad and crimes committed by the offender himself, known as 'self-laundering'. You can therefore be convicted for carrying out money laundering operations with property that you yourself have acquired through crime.

The most common predicate offenses to money laundering are drug offenses and fraud. Other offenses include doping, theft, robbery, extortion, smuggling, fraud and tax evasion.

What is a money laundering measure?

The term 'money laundering measure' refers to the handling of property derived from crime. An action may include transferring, converting, pledging, using or storing the property. It also includes dealing with electronic property, such as allowing a sum to be deposited into an account. Drawing up documents aimed at providing false explanations for the origin of criminal proceeds is also a money laundering activity. An example of this is false promissory notes.

What is the purpose of money laundering?

The existence of a money laundering purpose means that the actions taken with the proceeds of crime must have been aimed either at concealing the criminal origin of the property, or at somehow promoting the value of the proceeds of crime.

A person found liable for money laundering does not have to have intended to launder the property, but someone in the scheme (e.g. a client) must have had a money laundering intent. This can be explained by the fact that, in order to be held liable, the defendant must have had the intent to launder money.

What is the crime of money laundering?

In cases where it is not possible to prove a predicate offense, liability for business money laundering can be imposed instead. This applies when someone in business activities or as part of an activity that is carried out habitually or otherwise on a large scale contributes to a measure that can reasonably be assumed to have been taken for the purpose of money laundering. A predicate offense need not be proven. The offender must have been guilty of so-called reprehensible risk-taking.

The term 'business money laundering' is somewhat misleading as the provision does not only refer to business activities, but to all activities carried out habitually or on a large scale. The scope is therefore very broad. For minor money laundering offenses, there is no requirement at all that the action must have been taken within the framework of a business or similar activity. It is therefore possible to be sentenced for minor money laundering when it is a single action where the activity requirement is not considered to be met.

Classification and penalties for money laundering offences and business money laundering

There are three grades of money laundering offences and money laundering in the economy: minor, normal and serious. The range of penalties for money laundering and business money laundering is the same.

The penalty for minor money laundering offenses (money laundering offense) and minor money laundering offenses is a fine or imprisonment for a maximum of six months. For ordinary crimes, the penalty is imprisonment for a maximum of two years.

Serious money laundering and serious business money laundering are punishable by imprisonment of between six months and six years. When assessing whether the crime is aggravated, particular attention must be paid to whether the offense involved significant values, whether the criminal actions were part of a systematic or large-scale crime or otherwise of a particularly dangerous nature.

When assessing whether the money laundering crime should be considered serious, it is primarily the amount that matters. The benchmark is just over five price base amounts.  In the case of crimes where tax evasion is a predicate offense, the legislator has stated that the money laundering crime can be assessed as serious even though the tax evasion (for which the threshold for serious crime is ten price base amounts) is not assessed as serious. 

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The Consumer Disputes Board examines fee disputes and other financial claims, both domestic and cross-border, brought by a consumer against a attorney or law firm. Learn more here.

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