Treasury Department Targeting Money Laundering in Florida
On behalf of Mark L. Horwitz
Numerous electronics importers and exporters are the subject of an ongoing federal investigation in Florida.
Any business can be subject to a state or federal investigation on suspicion of money laundering. Some businesses, however, generally receive more attention than others. This is now true of electronics businesses in Florida.
The Treasury Department's Financial Crimes and Enforcement Network (FinCEN) suspects that electronics businesses in the Miami area are being used to launder money from the drug trade. On April 28, federal authorities began targeting 700 electronics businesses in the Miami area. The order requires electronics businesses to submit a Form 8300 for all cash transactions worth $3,000 and above. Form 8300 is usually required for cash transactions worth $10,000 and above.
Form 8300 requires that businesses have a customer's telephone number and a photo id, such as driver's license or passport, in order to complete a sale or transaction. If a third party is involved, the third party must be identified as well. The order is expected to affect anyone flying into Florida with $3,000 or more in order to purchase electronics. Banks who partner with electronics businesses will also be affected.
It isn't clear how many of the targeted businesses, if any, are actively engaged in money laundering. Instead, some of the exporters may be unwitting accomplices to money laundering activity, if indeed there is anything to the Treasury Department's suspicions. The cartels suspected of using Florida businesses to launder money include Los Zetas and the Sinaloa, reports FinCEN. They are the two largest cartels in Mexico.
The order will last 180 days, meaning Florida businesses are still very much being targeted by federal authorities. FinCEN conducted a similar dragnet last year in Los Angeles' garment district, which preceded several government enforcement actions, including obtaining search warrants and cash and asset seizures. The South Florida Money Laundering Strike Force has also issued a number of recent forfeiture cases involving electronics businesses in the area.
It is relatively rare that federal authorities so openly investigate financial crimes. Essentially, feds have put Miami-area electronics businesses on notice that they are being investigated for money laundering. It indicates that deterrence is an additional goal of the dragnet.
Money laundering in Florida
Businesses in South Florida are not the only ones that should be wary. All across the state, businesses in finance, healthcare, importing/exporting, and other industries are being subjected to strict regulations, along with federal and state investigations. While the vast majority of businesses in Florida are legally compliant, that does not guarantee freedom from a criminal investigation: Even law-abiding citizens and businesses can find themselves under investigation.
If you or your business is the target of a federal investigation of a white-collar crime such as money laundering, contact the Law Offices of Horwitz & Citro, P.A. to discuss your legal options and defense.