Federal prosecutors need to show evidence of an established crime to obtain money laundering convictions. As noted by Business Insider, money laundering involves concealing funds allegedly received through unlawful activities. To reflect money laundering, three specific actions need to follow the unlawful acts.
By placing, layering and integrating money, unlawfully obtained funds appear as revenue from lawful businesses. These three activities follow an initial offense such as drug dealing or theft. Without an initial offense, prosecutors may not prove that a defendant disguised illicit profits.