A Brief History About Money Laundering, Including Dennis Hastert

Posted on July 06, 2016

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was recently sentenced to 15 months in prison and required to pay a $250,000 fine as part of his sentencing for financial crimes related to prior repeated sexual abuse.  Specifically, Hastert skirted banking laws in order to make hush-money payments to a man that he had allegedly sexually abused.  The laws in issue make it a criminal offense if an individual or financial institution does not follow the required reporting and recordkeeping requirements for monetary transactions, including reporting currency transactions exceeding $10,000 per transaction.  

Hastert intentionally circumvented or manipulated his withdrawals to pay the hush-money in order to fall below the $10,000 reporting threshold which, in turn, circumvented the Bank Secrecy Act’s reporting requirements.  The Bank Secrecy Act has been on the books since 1970, and it was not a crime to intentionally circumvent or manipulate cash transactions to fall below the $10,000 reporting threshold until 1986 when the Money Laundering Control Act was enacted.  The Money Laundering Control Act of 1986 made it a crime for a person to structure a transaction or a series of transactions in order to evade the $10,000 reporting threshold.  

Do you think Hastert should go to jail because of his withdrawal of money structured in a way to avoid the $10,000 reporting threshold? Or, should he go to jail because of prior sexual abuse, or both?

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