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Federal Prosecutors Seize Creamery’s Accounts Under Terror Financing Law

They had made repeated deposits under $10,000. The Justice Department has seized their account of $62,936 under the law as illegal “structuring.” The criminal provision is written in a way to avoid the need for actual intent or knowledge of the illegality.

The FBI documented nearly three-dozen deposits into their company’s bank account just under $10,000. The Justice Department takes the position that the transactions alone are sufficient to seize private assets.

Yet few people are aware that such a pattern can be deemed illegal structuring. Perhaps our tax lawyers can fill in the details, but I assume that this money is still reported as income by the business regardless of the deposit amount. Thus, there is no evidence of a benefit to the company in structuring.

What is remarkable is that this is a trap intentionally set by Congress at the demand of the Justice Department. In 1994 in Ratslaf v. U.S, Justice Ruth Ginsburg “interpreted the “willfully” element under 31 U.S.C. Sec. 5324 to require proof that the defendant knew the structuring was illegal. That would seem to create a fair and workable solution to structuring — confining it to the truly criminal element. However, Congress responded to the opinion by removing wilfulness from the statute.


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