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Structuring Cash Deposits

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 What is the Crime of Financial Structuring to Avoid Cash Reporting?

I have written an in depth paper about this topic.  If you are being investigated for this crime, you need to read my paper on structured cash deposits.  Most folks that are being investigated for these types of cases are legitimate business owners and think they haven’t done anything wrong.  Here is my paper on Structuring Cash Deposits.

These are unusual Federal Crimes.  However, the IRS and US Attorneys are prosecuting more and more of these crimes.  I have successfully defended many of these.

The federal government has made it a felony when anyone breaks down a single transaction into sections that total less than $10,000 each in order to avoid having their financial institution report the transaction as required under federal law. This is the crime of “structuring.” Federal law requires all banks, credit unions, etc. (foreign or domestic) to report to the federal government any single financial transaction that meets or exceeds $10,000.00. By keeping transactions under that amount, even at $9999.99, the federal reporting requirement doesn’t kick in and the federal government is not notified of the transaction.

$10,000 is the Reporting Requirement That Structuring Seeks to Avoid

This breaking down of one big chunk into a series of transactions under $10K is called “structuring the transaction” and it is a felony under the Bank Secrecy Act, 31 USC Section 5324.

  • It does not matter if the money comes from a totally legal source.
  • It does not matter if you pay 100% of the federal income taxes due on the money.

The crime is solely in circumventing the federal law mandating financial reporting of large transactions.

The statutory punishment is high for financial structuring to avoid cash reporting:

(1) In general .— Whoever violates this section shall be fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.

(2) Enhanced penalty for aggravated cases. — Whoever violates this section while violating another law of the United States or as part of a pattern of any illegal activity involving more than $100,000 in a 12-month period shall be fined twice the amount provided in subsection (b)(3) or (c)(3) (as the case may be) of section 3571 of title 18, United States Code, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both.

 Why Structuring (or Smurfing) Is Done – Money Laundering

Structuring is done by individuals who are trying to avoid the Internal Revenue Service in some way, often as part of a money laundering plan or in some form of tax evasion for money obtained in illegal transactions. Smurfing is a form of structuring where someone uses runners to handle multiple financial transactions for them, at different banks, in order to avoid federal financial reporting requirements.

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Banks are made watchdogs of the federal government for illegal money activities like this as the federal statute requires financial institutions to report to the government on a regular basis. Not only must financial institutions report all $10,000+ transactions in their currency transaction report, but they are also required to alert the authorities if they suspect structuring – for example, if a series of $9999 transactions happen in a single account.

Often, smurfing or structuring is needed by people who make their money in large amounts of cash, like those who run illegal gambling operations, those who deal in black market products, or those who manufacture, sell, or distribute illegal drugs or controlled substances. Money laundering is needed by these operations to move the cash they receive into the marketplace or financial system.

 Texas Financial Structuring Defense Lawyer

As a former prosecutor turned criminal defense lawyer with over 150 jury trials defending clients against charges brought by district attorneys and U.S. federal prosecutors in Dallas County, Tarrant County, and elsewhere in the State of Texas, Board Certified Criminal Lawyer Michael Lowe not only brings his years of experience to each case, he also dedicates 100% of his law practice to the defense of those being accused of a crime under Texas or federal law.

With a streamlined law firm that coordinates its efforts to give each client the personal attention that they need and deserve when fighting against the government and the possibility of jail time, fines, permanent marks on public records, prison incarceration, loss of licensure, loss of jobs, absence from family events and everyday living, Michael Lowe maintains an efficient and excellent criminal trial practice that is ready to help you or your loved ones in your defense against criminal charges from pre-arrest investigation to post-trial appeals.

To discuss your case in a free and completely confidential consultation, please contact Dallas Board Certified Criminal Lawyer Michael Lowe today.


Have a Question? Call Michael Lowe for a Free Initial Consultation.