The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is a thirty-eight-member intergovernmental organization whose mission is to fight money laundering and terrorism financing; the U.S. is a founding member of the FATF. The FATF is best known for its 40 Recommendations, many of which are directed towards various kinds of “gatekeepers” who are in a position to facilitate or inhibit money laundering and terrorism financing. (These were previously known as the 40+9 Recommendations). Lawyers are among those to whom the FATF’s recommendations apply. This article provides the introduction for the Journal of the Professional Lawyer’s Symposium about the application of the FATF recommendations to the legal profession. It explains what the FATF is, why its “soft law” recommendations are influential, and introduces the FATF 40 plus 9 Recommendations and a 2008 FATF document called the “RBA Guidance for Legal Professionals.” By synthesizing data collected by the International Bar Association and by providing a brief overview of the implementation in three English-speaking common law countries, this article documents how governmental implementation of the FATF recommendations has dramatically affected lawyer regulation around the world. (The FATF’s reach is much broader than its thirty-six members because more than one hundred eighty jurisdictions or entities have endorsed its recommendations.) This article continues by providing an overview of bar association and regulatory responses to the FATF developments. The analysis section of this article: 1) explains how “soft law” developments such as these FATF developments can become influential and the importance of monitoring them; 2) highlights the importance of these particular developments and encourages the U.S. legal profession to follow them more closely; 3) explains why global collaboration is particularly important in this context; and 4) explains how these developments illustrate the validity of the “services providers” paradigm about which I have previously written and the implications that flow from that observation.
For more recent articles about FATF by Laurel Terry, see Laurel S. Terry, U.S. Legal Profession Efforts to Combat Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing, 59 N. Y. L. S. L. Rev. 487 (2015); Laurel S. Terry and José Carlos Llerena Robles, The Relevance of FATF’s Recommendations and 4th Round of Mutual Evaluations to the Legal Profession, 42 Fordham J. Int’l L.627 (2018).
To access these articles, a FATF-AML Resources list for the legal profession, a two-page summary of the “red flags” in the Voluntary Good Practices Guide, and additional materials by Laurel Terry related to FATF and lawyer-AML issues, go to this website and select “Financial Action Task Force (FATF) & Gatekeeper - Money Laundering (AML) Issues” as the category in the Dropdown menu:
Laurel S. Terry, An Introduction to the Financial Action Task Force and its 2008 Lawyer Guidance, 2010 J. Prof. Law. 3 (2010).