While the term structuring might sound like it has to do with architecture, it’s not. Instead, it’s a money-handling tactic that all businesses, small and large, should avoid like the plague.
Structuring is breaking a large amount of cash into multiple bundles small enough to avoid a bank-issued Currency Transaction Report (“CTR”). Depository institutions such as banks are required to file a CTR which ultimately is relayed to the Internal Revenue Service for each and every deposit over a certain amount, currently $10,000.00, within a given business day. An issuing-bank files the report over the internet at http://bsaefiling.fincen.treas.gov/index.jsp no more than 15 calendar days after the transaction date. FinCEN collects this data, which may indicate a suspect transaction, from CTR data well as Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR). One or both may be required to report a suspicious transaction. Depending upon the circumstances, an institution may also be required to telephone law enforcement officials.
And it’s not just banks that must file CTRs and SARs. The types of financial institutions required to complete these reports is expansive and includes other kinds of depository entities such as securities brokers and dealers, remittance processors, currency exchange businesses, casinos, and those providing money orders and checks, categorized by reporting agency (31 CFR Part 103).
Periodically we hear in the news of people for whom the temptations of avoiding reporting to the Internal Revenue Services overcame their better judgment. Just last month, two prominent New Jersey attorneys were charged with structuring deposits made into their trust account. Reportedly, they did it at the behest of a client. Now these attorneys face possible 5 years incarceration, fines of a quarter of a million dollars, forfeiture, and doubling if convicted of an aggravated crime. Other penalties may apply, as well.
So, while it is okay to be fascinated watching an actor like Skyler White in Breaking Bad perfecting her money-laundering techniques, this is a case where a business must be squeaky clean.