US Attorney's Office Responds to Bank Secrecy Act Questions

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The following U.S. Attorney's Office statement was given to CBN News in response to the cases of two farmers penalized for violating the Bank Secrecy Act:

A seizure order may be approved by a federal judge only if there is probable cause to believe the law was violated.  However, if there was an innocent reason for structuring cash deposits, the defendant may provide that evidence to the U.S. Attorney.  Or, the defendant has a right to a hearing to cross-examine government witnesses and present mitigating evidence to a federal judge who then will decide the case.

Instead, in both the Taylor and Sowers cases, the defendants quickly entered into settlement agreements after consulting with their lawyers.  When a defendant waives the right to a hearing and settles a forfeiture case, the defendant is not required to answer questions under oath, and the government does not publicly disclose its evidence of wrongdoing.

People who break large cash deposits into amounts under $10,000 usually do it because they know financial institutions report larger deposits to the IRS.  In most cases, the motive for structuring is to conceal money earned through criminal conduct, or to evade taxes on money earned lawfully.  The U.S. Attorney is always willing to consider evidence that a defendant had no improper motive, but the defendant must present the evidence before the case is settled.

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