April 2020 Foodman website and JD Supra

The Travel Act ( 18 U.S.C. § 1952 -one of the older members of the family of money laundering criminal statutes) is close to celebrating its 60th year.  The Travel Act is still relevant today because of its “broad spectrum” and enforcement targeting illegal activity.   The Act prohibits using of the U.S. mail, or interstate or foreign travel, for the purpose of engaging in certain specified criminal acts.  Its elements cover anyone who:

1.            A. travels in interstate or foreign commerce, or

B. uses any facility in interstate or foreign commerce, or

C. uses the mail

2. with intent:

A. to distribute the proceeds of an unlawful activity, i.e., i. any business enterprise involving unlawful activities gambling, moonshining, drug dealing, or prostitution; or ii. extortion, bribery, or arson; or iii. any act which is indictable as money laundering; or

B. commit an act of violence to further an unlawful activity; or

C. to otherwise

i. promote,

ii. manage,

iii. establish,

iv. carry on, or

v. facilitate the promotion, management, establishment, or carrying on

any unlawful activity; and

3. thereafter

A. distributes or attempts to distribute such proceeds, or

B. commits or attempts to commit such act of violence, or

C. promotes, manages, establishes, carries on, or facilitates the promotion, management, establishment, or carrying on such unlawful activities or attempts to do so.

‘‘Unlawful Activity’’ means

(1) any business enterprise involving gambling, liquor on which the Federal excise tax has not been paid, narcotics or controlled substances (as defined in section 102(6) of the Controlled Substances Act), or prostitution offenses in violation of the laws of the State in which they are committed or of the United States,

(2) extortion, bribery, or arson in violation of the laws of the State in which committed or of the United States, or (3) any act which is indictable under subchapter II of chapter 53 of title 31, United States Code, or under section 1956 or 1957 of this title and (ii) the term ‘‘State’’ includes a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, and any commonwealth.

60 years later

Sections 1956 (Laundering of monetary instruments), and Section 1957 (Engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity) under Title 18 directly tie the Travel Act to money laundering offenses under the Money Laundering Control Act[, violations of certain financial reporting requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) under the Patriot Act.

The Travel Act also connects to the FCPA because the Act applies to foreign and interstate commerce; it can be also used to prosecute those US companies and individuals which engage in bribery and corruption of foreign officials AND commercial bribery and corruption of private foreign citizens. Thus, it targets bribery and kickbacks which are traceable through forensic accounting investigations.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to prioritize anti-fraud enforcement through the aggressive use of different statutes and investigative methods and the Travel Act is one of the tools in the DOJ’s arsenal. 

Consult your Compliance Expert.