Monday, August 08, 2005

Jack Abramoff, old economy guy

Josh Marshall has been looking into the latest Jack Abramoff scandal:

To recap the details, Abramoff's clients in Guam paid him $324,000 in 36 separate checks for $9,000. They didn't pay it to him directly but used a Laguna Beach, California attorney, Howard Hills, as the cut-out. The Guam clients sent the money to Hills; Hills sent it on to Abramoff, etc.

Now, as we also noted, the $9,000 number jumps out because it's just shy of $10,000. And banks must report all transactions over $10,000 to federal regulators.

I was curious whether bundling payments like this is a crime even if there's no other criminal activity tied to the transaction. And the answer seems to be: absolutely.

Abramoff's activities recall an episode from season 4 of The Sopranos. Carmela, fearing for her own financial security, swipes $50K that Tony has stashed in a backyard bin.

Here's how TWOP describes it:
Anyway, now we go to Carmela, who is counting out cash at her local bank. She's investing precisely $9,900, and the broker is nice enough to inform her that he's required to tell the IRS about any transaction of $10,000 or more. "Oh, really?" wonders Carmela, before opening her notebook to reveal that she's made four other identical deposits. "I want it in something safe," she adds. "Something old economy."