Why some people use fine art for money laundering

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2021 | Fraud

Although many people in California don’t put white-collar crime on the same level as violent acts like robbery with a weapon and murder, the courts still dole out harsh punishments. If you are accused of a white-collar crime like money laundering through art sales, you’ll need to mount an aggressive defense.

Fine art is a target industry

The entire fine art industry is ripe for white-collar crime as the sale of artwork is often clothed in secrecy. Fine art sales are the largest unregulated industry in the United States, so it’s no wonder that many people try to launder money from other illegal activities through art sales. It’s not surprising that anything that may seem untoward with regard to art exchanging hands may be considered fraudulent by law enforcement agencies.

Most illicit art sales take place through public dealers to avoid scrutiny. These sales may also occur in secret via cash or another common payment like checks, making the transaction even harder to prosecute as there is no legal record.

Another reason for targeting the art industry is that sellers are not subject to anti-money laundering provisions and don’t have to reveal the name of the buyer. With virtually no regulation in place, it’s easy for a buyer or seller to be implicated in
money laundering schemes involving artwork without their knowledge.

Defending against money laundering charges

If you have been accused of one of these complex crimes, make sure that you have detailed records in place to show your innocence. You may need to mount a strong defense that proves you were not money laundering or otherwise engaged in illicit activities. Whenever you deal in sales of fine artwork or other collectibles, making sure all transactions are within the law should give you a better chance of acquittal if you get accused of money laundering.