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Forfeiture for Money Transmitting Business

Under federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 1960 prohibits operating a “money transmitting business” without a license. The proceeds of such a business are subject to seizure and a civil asset forfeiture proceeding.

Most civil asset forfeiture proceedings against a “money transmitting business”  are typically deployed against non-bank financial institutions including currency exchangers or wire emitters.

The federal government might seek to forfeit the property under 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(A) and (C), if the U.S. Currency or other property is:

  • the proceeds of an unlicensed money transmitting business in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1960 (b)(1)(A) and (B); or
  • involved in a transaction with the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(c)(7)(A), 1956(a)(2)(A), and 1957.

Attorney for Forfeitures Involving a Money Transmitting Business

Asset civil forfeiture attorneys represent individuals and businesses after a federal agency seizes U.S. Currency for forfeiture.

In many of these cases, the currency is seized directly from a bank account. In other cases, the U.S. Currency is seized from an individual at the airport, a train station, or on the roadway.

No matter how the money was seized for forfeiture, an attorney can help anyone accused of being a currency exchanger or wire emitter illegally operating a business that is not properly licensed as a money transmitting business.

Call 813-250-0500.


Civil Asset Forfeitures Involving 18 U.S.C. § 1960

In 1990, Congress enacted 18 U.S.C § 1960 in order “to combat the growing use of money transmitting businesses to transfer large amounts of monetary proceeds of unlawful enterprises.” United States v. Velastegui, 199 F.3d 590, 593 (2d Cir. 1999) (citing S. Rep. No. 101-460, at 14 (1990), reprinted in 1990 U.S.C.C.A.N. 6645, 6658–59).

The statute was later amended under the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001. Pub. L. No. 107-56, 115 Stat. 272 (2001). Subsection (a) of 18 U.S.C § 1960 makes it a crime to knowingly conduct, control, manage, supervise, direct, or own all or part of an unlicensed money transmitting business. In fact, 18 U.S.C. § 1960(a).

Subsection (b) then provides:

(1) the term “unlicensed money transmitting business” means a money transmitting business that affects interstate or foreign commerce in any manner or degree and—

(A) is operated without an appropriate money transmitting license in a State where such operation is punishable as a misdemeanor or a felony under State law, whether or not the defendant knew that the operation was required to be licensed or that the operation was so punishable;

(B) fails to comply with the money transmitting business registration requirements under section 5330 of title 31, United States Code, or regulations prescribed under such section; or

(C) otherwise involves the transportation or transmission of funds that are known to the defendant to have been derived from a criminal offense or are intended to be used to promote or support unlawful activity.

(2) the term “money transmitting” includes transferring funds on behalf of the public by any and all means including but not limited to transfers within this country or to locations abroad by wire, check, draft, facsimile, or courier; and

(3) the term “State” means any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and any commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States.

Allegations that the business failed to comply with the money transmitting business registration requirements under section 5330 of title 31, United States Code, involve proof that money transmitting business failed to register with the Secretary of Treasury.

Section 5330 defines a money transmitting business as one that “provides . . . money transmitting or remitting services . . . or any other person who engages as a business in the transmission of funds” and “is required to file reports under 31 U.S.C. § 5313.” Id.  5330 § (a)(1), (d)(1)(A), (B).

31 U.S.C. § 5313 requires that reports be filed by “domestic financial institutions.” Therefore, in order to qualify as a money transmitting business under § 1960(b)(1)(B), the business must also be a “domestic financial institution.”


This article was last updated on Friday, August 6, 2021.

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