Money laundering is a serious offence contrary to section 138 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA). That section creates two offences of money laundering. First, money laundering with knowledge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for a natural person. Second, money laundering with negligence carries a maximum penalty of 4 years imprisonment for a natural person. There are also applicable penalties for body corporates.
The prosecution must prove three elements:
- The accused engaged in a transaction involving property;
- The property was tainted;
- In respect of either offence:
- The accused either knew the property was tainted property (the first offence); or,
- The accused ought reasonably to have known that the property was tainted (the second offence).
A transaction can include that the property was brought, received, concealed or disposed of directly or indirectly by the accused. To prove that property is tainted, the prosecution must show it was obtained from unlawful activity. The third element looks to the accused’s state of mind or objectively, what the accused should have known.
The usual community perception of money laundering is the concealment of the origin of money obtained through unlawful activity. However, the broad definition of tainted property under this section also captures a person who knowingly sells stolen property. The offence can vary in the form of its method, level of sophistication and role in criminal organisations. The evidence typically involves complex factual circumstances and lengthy documents. Defending the charges often requires detailed analysis.
There are also Commonwealth provisions for different money laundering offences under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
If you are charged with any of these offences, seek the considered advice of our experienced team to guide you to the best possible outcome.