Anti-Money Laundering & Economic Sanctions

Protecting Financial Institutions

In response to September 11, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act, which expanded the criminal money-laundering statutes to aid in the global war on terror and combat terrorist financing.  These new laws and regulations expanded existing compliance obligations, and imposed new obligations on previously unregulated industries, such as mutual funds; insurance companies; and dealers in precious metals, stones, and jewels.  Financial institutions have been required to update their policies and procedures to adapt to the new regulations. Blank Rome’s anti-money laundering and economic-sanctions compliance team can provide your business with the guidance necessary to meet these evolving obligations.

Blank Rome’s anti-money laundering team represents banks, securities firms, financial service companies, and other non-bank financial institutions and regulated entities in a full range of anti-money laundering services, including:

  • conducting initial risk assessments of various regulated entities to identify and mitigate their potential exposure to money laundering, terrorist financing, or violations of the regulations issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”)
  • establishing anti-money laundering policies and procedures, and providing ongoing compliance advice
  • conducting audits and internal investigations
  • interacting with regulators and government attorneys, when necessary

Risk Assessments

We perform strategic assessments of the risks engendered by a regulated entity’s business practices.  We analyze procedures for handling new types of accounts and transactions, customer identification procedures (“CIP”), suspicious activity report (“SAR”) monitoring, and other reporting obligations, and we recommend best practices based on the latest trends and case law.

Regulatory Compliance

Blank Rome’s attorneys assist clients in meeting their regulatory and compliance obligations under the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”), the USA PATRIOT Act, and the economic sanctions programs administered by OFAC. We represent regulated entities, including bank and non-bank financial institutions; registered investment advisers; investment companies; broker-dealers; mutual funds; transfer agents; and dealers in precious metals, stones, and jewels. Our attorneys work closely with you to design and implement appropriate anti-money laundering programs, compliance programs, and monitoring and auditing procedures for your industry.

Members of the anti-money laundering team also provide ongoing, day-to-day training and compliance assistance. We continue to monitor the appropriate regulatory agencies to ensure that you are kept apprised of trends in the regulatory environment.  We assist you in responding to informal questions or formal requests from regulators regarding anti-money laundering compliance programs or other requirements under the USA PATRIOT Act—including filing SARs, FinCEN Form 8300s, and Foreign Bank Account Reports (“FBARs”), among others.

Internal Investigations

Blank Rome’s team regularly conducts sensitive corporate internal investigations and client-regulated risk assessments. Our team also deals with government attorneys in connection with implementation of corporate compliance. The goal of these internal investigations is to develop and analyze factual and legal issues, defend clients against any potential allegations, and develop creative solutions for problems that are identified as a result of the investigative process. Blank Rome also handles the media issues that often arise from high-profile investigations.

Negotiation with Regulators

In those situations where a client becomes the focus of the regulators or an enforcement action is instituted against them, we are able to draw on our prior experience in an effort to negotiate reduce, or mitigate any proposed civil monetary penalties.  Blank Rome concentrates its practice before certain regulators, such as the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”).

Select Engagements

  • Represent a regional bank in the negotiation and resolution of a civil enforcement penalty investigation by FinCEN, as well as an ongoing criminal investigation by a U.S. attorney.
  • Represented financial institutions in connection with the negotiation of civil enforcement penalties by FinCEN.
  • Assisted an international broker-dealer with money laundering and OFAC compliance obligations associated with an assumption of a Fortune 50 international stock ownership plan.
  • Provided advice on the various foreign-lender compliance obligations under the USA PATRIOT Act to an Italian bank in connection with a series of real estate loans made in New York in euros pursuant to a loan agreement governed by Italian law.

Experienced Attorneys, Recognized in Their Fields

The anti-money laundering group’s attorneys are frequently called to speak and write on regulatory and enforcement issues. The team includes three former assistant U.S. attorneys and two former trial attorneys with the U.S. Department of Justice. Practice group leader Ian M. Comisky lectures internationally on money laundering and is the co-author of the two-volume treatise Tax Fraud and Evasion, which is comprehensive in its coverage of money-laundering offenses and current case law.