To start off, I should say I am not trying to do anything illegal - quite the opposite.

I am in the US and I have a decently large amount of cash - above the $10,000 reporting threshhold (approximately $20,000). I would like to put this in the bank, and as tempting as it is to deposit it a little at a time, that's basically textbook structuring, and I don't want to commit a felony just to avoid a possible unpleasant interaction with the government.

That said, I'm not sure exactly what happens when you deposit >$10,000 cash into a bank. I know that a currency transaction report is generated, and there's some possible that this will trigger an investigation (though this is a one-time thing, so I doubt they'll see any sort of pattern).

My question is: I have heard, over and over again, that you should not talk to law enforcement without a lawyer present, even when you are completely innocent. I am worried that if questioned about the source of the money, I will accidentally waive my "right to remain silent" by trying to explain the source of the money only to find I've accidentally broken some obscure financial law. Similarly, I don't want to break some law I don't know about by refusing to talk about the source of the money if questioned by a bank employee or IRS person.

My question is this: Is there some requirement that I disclose the source of a large cash deposit to a bank teller, if asked? (I'm assuming here that if I'm actually approached by a real government agent, I will need a lawyer, or at least an accountant).

And as a bonus question - how likely is it that I'll actually be seriously grilled about this, as opposed to just having the CTR go in without me knowing it?


There will be no police involved. The police do not care. Only the feds care, and they only care about large amounts (over $100,000).

What will happen is that the teller will deposit the money like nothing is unusual, but the amount will trigger a "Suspicious Transaction Report" to be filed by the bank. This information goes to the US Treasury and is then circulated by the Treasury to basically every agency in the government: the Department of Defense, the FBI, the NSA, the CIA, the DEA, the IRS, etc.

What happens next depends on your relationship with your bank and the personality of the bank.

In my case I have made large cash transactions at two different banks, one that I had a long relationship with, and another that I had a long-standing but dormant account. The long-term one was a high end savings bank in a city. The dormant one was one of those bozo retail banks (think "Citizens" or "Bank of America") in a suburb.

The long-term bank ignored my first deposit, but after I made some more including one over $50,000 in cash they summoned me via a letter. I went in, talked to the branch manager and explained why I was making the deposits. He said "That sounds plausible." and that was the end of the interview. It is unlikely that they transferred the information. They probably just wrote it down. They did this because they have "know your customer" regulations and they wanted to be able to prove that they did "due diligence" in case anybody asked about it later.

The suburban bank never asked any questions, but they did file the STRs.

In general, there is no way to know if the bank will interview you or not. It depends on a lot of different factors. The basic factors are: how much money is it, are you doing a lot of business normally, and how well does the bank know you.

If you refuse to answer the bank's questions to their satisfaction, it is a 100% chance that they will close your account. They can also file higher level reports that flag your activity as "highly suspicious" as opposed to just the normal "suspicious".

As long as it is a bank employee, you should have no serious concerns unless the guy seems strange and asks really pointed questions. If you have any question whether the "employee" is legitimate, just verify that he/she is a bank employee.

Obviously if the feds visit you, you should say nothing. The chance of this happening is 1 in a million.

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    That is not correct. You are confusing SARs (Suspicious Activity Report) with the required report for cash transactions of 10K or more. The former are done for much smaller amounts under 10K and the bank is required to keep the fact a report is being made a secret. The latter requires that the bank gather, and the customer provide, specific information. Most money laundering prosecutions are now done via SARs and structuring violations. The CTR (>10k report) is common, disclosed to the customer. It is mandatory for cash deps or withdraws of >10K. I've done a bunch of these from Vegas trips. – doug Dec 28 '16 at 2:39

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