Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Rush Limbaugh: Money Launderer?

Authorities say they became aware two years ago, during an investigation of New York bank US Trust, that Limbaugh had taken between 30 and 40 cash withdrawals from his account in amounts just under $10,000.

Banks must file a report to the government if someone withdraws more than $10,000 at once.

Limbaugh's lawyers confirm that as part of US Trust's service, a bank employee personally delivered cash to Limbaugh at his New York studio in amounts of $9,900 or so.

"That in itself is a suspicious activity: They are structuring their transaction to avoid reporting to the government, and the bank is required to file with the federal government something called a suspicious activity report," said Jack Blum, an expert on financial crimes.

Limbaugh's lawyers say it was US Trust that suggested the arrangement. In July 2001 the bank paid a $10 million fine because of the Limbaugh transactions and many others like it.

Some readers may know that many years passed I was employed in banking in NYC. During that time the IRS began it's strict enforcement of what was known as '4789', the IRS form used to report 'suspicious cash transactions.' So while I am unlike Mr. Blum, who according to the story is an 'expert on financial crimes', I do know a thing or two about the form.

The article throws out the line 'in July 2001 the bank paid a $10 million fine because of the Limbaugh transactions and many others like it', but chooses not to source it. In fact, it is the bank itself who is responsible for the filing of the 4789, and clearly the instructions direct the institution to do so in the case of multiple transactions. So assuming for a moment Rush did, as it is alleged, it is the bank's responsibility to file the reports.

Assuming the bank did, in fact, pay the fine listed, the next step would be for the banking authority to refer the matter to the IRS. Now I cannot speak for Rush, but I think it would be easy to suggest the crimes he's being accused of -- notabably in the media alone, and not apparently by any law enforcement agency -- are largely heresay.

If Rush is formerly charged with a specific crime, and the evidence shows he is guilty, then I will not argue with it. If it remains to be a piling-on of accusations -- as he has endured for 15 years -- then his opposition are showing themselves for what they are: mind-numbingly foolish.

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