Monday, October 15, 2007

Supreme Court Grants Cert in Fifth Circuit Case Concerning Scope of "Concealment" Element of Money Laundering Statute

Does 18 U.S.C. ยง 1956(a)(2)(B)(i), which prohibits transporting the proceeds of illegal activity "to conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or the control of the proceeds," apply to situations where the proceeds are physically concealed during the transportation, even if the concealment does nothing to disguise the source, ownership, etc. of the proceeds? Sparks flew when the Fifth Circuit considered that question en banc in United States v. Cuellar. The majority essentially held that concealing money while transporting it is sufficient to satisfy the concealment element of the offense. The strongly-worded dissent argued that the statute only reaches "transporting money to conceal it," not "concealing money to transport it."

Our initial coverage of the case remarked that "[i]t'll be interesting to see what happens with the inevitable cert petition in this case." Wonder no more. As SCOTUSblog reports here, the Supreme Court granted cert in Cuellar today. The question presented is "whether merely hiding funds with no design to create the appearance of legitimate wealth is sufficient to support a money laundering conviction." SCOTUSblog has also helpfully collected the petition for certiorari, the Solicitor General's brief in opposition, the petitioner's reply, and and amicus brief in support from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

This should be a very interesting case to watch. And as always, don't forget to preserve the issue if it crops up in any of your cases.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home