Money laundering prevention guide a global first for lawyers

A new guide aiming to provide lawyers across the world with practical guidance in detecting and preventing money laundering has been produced by the International Bar Association (IBA) in conjunction with the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE).

Stephen Revell, a partner at Freshfields law firm in Singapore, who led the IBA’s contribution and was the overall editor of the Guide, said, ‘Anti-money laundering regulation is becoming more complex as various global AML protocols affecting lawyers come into effect. In turn, the obligations on lawyers are becoming more onerous and challenging some of the basic tenets of the profession with regard to a lawyer’s duty of confidentiality toward the client.’ He added, ‘All lawyers have ethical obligations in this area that need to be better understood and followed, making this new Guide a vital point of reference for any lawyer who is exposed to anti-money laundering obligations.’

A Lawyer’s Guide to Detecting and Preventing Money Laundering addresses the responsibilities of lawyers in many jurisdictions in this area and, as such, is the first of its kind. It focuses on the legal obligations lawyers have in various situations in terms of their own compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) laws and illustrates the latest detection techniques being employed by lawyers to avoid involvement in money laundering. In addition, the Guide provides thought-provoking commentary on the underlying ethical obligations that lawyers have – for example, being alert to finding themselves involved in criminal activity and taking care to avoid facilitating the work of criminals.

Demand for the guide was driven by feedback from lawyers at IBA, ABA and CCBE conferences in recent years, which called for practical guidance based on case studies of the ‘unwitting’ participation of lawyers in money laundering schemes. The resulting Guide is intended as a resource for lawyers and law firms to highlight the ethical and professional concerns relating to AML and to help lawyers and law firms comply with their legal obligations in countries where they apply. It comprises:

  • a summary of certain international and national sources of AML obligations;
  • discussion of the vulnerabilities of the legal profession to misuse by criminals in the context of money laundering;
  • discussion of the risk-based approach to detecting red flags, red flag indicators of money laundering activities and how to respond to them; and
  • case studies to illustrate how red flags may arise in the context of providing legal advice.

Mr Revell further commented, ‘Money laundering has been a recurring theme for lawyers throughout the last decade. Legislators and regulators are more focused on lawyers as “gatekeepers” to the financial system, and lawyers need to keep pace with that change. This is the first hands-on AML guide by lawyers, for lawyers and we think it directly meets that challenge.’

The Guide can be downloaded free of charge from theIBA Anti-Money Laundering Forum

website. Click here to download the Guide.


Notes to the Editor

  1. A Lawyer’s Guide to Detecting and Preventing Money Launderinghas been prepared by working groups of the IBA, led by Stephen Revell; the ABA, led by Kevin Shepherd; and the Council of Bars CCBE, with the help of Dr S Chandra Mohan (Associate Professor of Law) and Lynn Kan (Juris Doctor) Singapore Management University, School of Law.

  2. A Lawyer’s Guide to Detecting and Preventing Money Launderingwas released on 22 October 2014 during the 2014 IBA Annual Conference held in Tokyo, Japan.

  3. The IBA Anti-Money Laundering Legislation Implementation Working Group (AMLLIWG) is a specialised working group of the IBA’s Public and Professional Interest Division. The Working Group focuses upon the challenges for the legal profession presented by compliance with anti-money laundering legislation throughout the world. The aims of the group are to:
    • seek a dialogue with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the European Commission, local regulatory bodies, bar associations and others to share information and encourage greater cooperation and coordination and to ensure the special role that lawyers play in society is both fully recognised and appropriately addressed in any existing and proposed legislation;
    • monitor all legislative and regulatory anti-money laundering requirements affecting lawyers worldwide;
    • analyse the impact on law firms and private practitioners of the implementation of the FATF Recommendations and Standards, the EU Money Laundering Directives and other national and international legislative initiatives;
    • ensure appropriate awareness of legal professionals around the world of legislative developments, both internationally and nationally, that apply to them as lawyers and of the issues that may be encountered as a result of money laundering by their clients; and
    • act as an information resource through our website – – for practitioners and academics to promote greater awareness of the implications of anti-money laundering regulations as they impact lawyers.

  4. Link to the IBA Anti-Money Laundering Forum homepage

  5. The International Bar Association(IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA’s administrative office is in London. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington DC, US, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court Programme(IBA ICC) is managed from an office in The Hague.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute(IBAHRI) works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.


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