People who have criminal enterprises and those who are taking part in illegal activities have to find a way to make their funds seem legitimate. Money laundering, which involves moving money made in these criminal endeavors into places that make it seem like it came from a legal source, is one way that they handle this money concern. Money laundering is an action that can lead to criminal charges.
Money laundering was initially outlawed in the 1970s and the law against the criminal act was strengthened the following decade. The Money Laundering Control Act of 1989 made it illegal to engage in the transfer of money that was made in certain ways. While this did outlaw transferring the money into banks and other businesses, it also made transfer of funds from one person to another illegal if the funds came from one of the specified criminal acts.
Laws against money laundering continue to evolve. In the 1990s, more laws were passes. Even the Patriot Act that was passed after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks strengthened the laws against this crime. Most notably, the Patriot Act set expectations for banks that included obtaining specific identifying information so that the banks know who their customers are. This is thought to prevent fraudulent accounts from being used to launder money.
Typically, money laundering charges come about after a lengthy investigation. You can't face these charges thinking that a defense strategy thrown together at the last minute will suffice. Instead, you have plan your defense carefully by scrutinizing the evidence that is being used against you so that you can present a case that calls those points into question.
Source: FindLaw, "Money Laundering," accessed Jan. 27, 2017