Anti Money Laundering Initiatives and Lawyers: What We Need to Know

by Davis Brown Law Firm


Last Friday I was lucky enough to attend a Symposium at New York Law School entitled "Combating Threats to the International Financial System: The Financial Action Task Force."1

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an international task force established in 1989 which now has representatives from 36 countries, including the United States, Canada, the European Union countries, China, Japan and others.

The FATF mission is to establish international standards for combating money laundering from illegal transactions and to prevent financing of terrorist activities.  Since its inception in 1989, the FATF has instituted many recommendations of steps countries can take, in the form of law or regulations, to prevent the use of our financial institutions and systems, for laundering monetary proceeds of illegal activities.

After September 11, 2001, the FATF charge was expanded to include the prevention of terrorist financing as a primary goal of the task force.  New York Law School is located in lower Manhattan, in TriBeCa, less than a 10 minute walk from the World Trade Center.  It was so very appropriate that this Symposium was held in such close proximity to the WTC.

The introductory speaker, Duncan Osborne, of Austin, Texas2, not only gave a background of the FATF’s efforts to recommend enforcement measures to member countries, but he gave a thought provoking critique of the effectiveness of those measures and the price to be paid, in terms of loss of individual liberties, upon national implementation of certain of the FATF recommendations.

It is hard to argue against measures that are intended to prevent the ‘legalization’ of monetary proceeds of illegal activities such as the drug trade and human trafficking.  It is even more difficult to question any laws that are intended to prevent the financing of terrorist activities, especially when the cost of terrorist activities is not the loss of funds, but the loss of life.

Unfortunately, however, not all well-intended actions are effective.  And others have the potential effect of seriously depriving individuals of their liberty, particularly when the FATF recommended actions impose serious regulations on the legal profession.

This includes requiring lawyers to report certain client monetary activity to government or quasi-governmental authorities.  In addition, there is a proposed requirement that lawyers report to the authorities when there is a suspicion of such activity by clients or potential clients.  Such reporting must be done without notifying the client of the reporting, which is called the “no tipping off” rules.

Mr. Osborne pointed out that not only do such laws and regulation run afoul of the personal liberties granted to individuals through the legal systems of the various countries, but the effectiveness of the rules in the jurisdictions that have adopted them has been questionable.

Although these types of rules (which are also applicable to casinos and dealers in precious metals and stones) have not been adopted for lawyers in the United States, the FATF does bring pressure on the various jurisdictions to pass legislation to that effect.

Mr. Osborne’s presentation was an appropriate beginning to the subsequent panels discussing the FATF’s work, which will be the subject of future articles.

1. The Symposium was planned and hosted by Professor William P. LaPiana, the Rita and Joseph Solomon Professor of Wills, Trusts, and Estates, Director of Estate Planning Studies for the Graduate Tax Program at New York Law School and the New York Law School Law Review.

2. Mr. Osborne, the immediate past president of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) has served as the ACTEC delegate to the FATF for more than 10 years and is a writer and frequent speaker on the topic of anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing efforts.   

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Davis Brown Law Firm | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Davis Brown Law Firm

Davis Brown Law Firm on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.