Global Financial Services Regulation > Anti-Money Laundering

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP has broad experience in addressing anti-money laundering (AML) issues affecting our clients, both in the U.S. and in other jurisdictions. Our AML team includes lawyers from a number of our practice groups who have deep experience in AML concerns. This includes members of our international trade, litigation (including our United Kingdom financial regulatory team), government investigations, white collar defense and tax practices who work both independently and on a closely coordinated basis, as needed, to address AML compliance and enforcement concerns so that our clients may achieve their business goals.

We advise clients on developing compliance programs and conducting compliance audits. We assist them in defending against enforcement actions by state and federal regulators, including conducting internal investigations, responding to subpoenas and investigations, and negotiating settlements of alleged violations, as well as successfully defending clients at trial. Our work encompasses the full range of U.S. AML regulations and statutes, including the USA PATRIOT Act, the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) sanctions regulations and equivalent laws of other countries in cases where multijurisdictional AML concerns arise.

We are actively representing current and former executives of numerous global financial institutions in nonpublic and public government investigations initiated by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Congress and others, involving alleged deficiencies of AML controls and alleged violations of U.S. sanctions regulations applicable to financial institutions. Our team has also advised and defended large financial institutions and their employees in some of the largest and most high-profile sanctions and AML enforcement actions in recent history. We also have substantial experience managing multiagency money laundering enforcement actions involving various state prosecutors and regulators, such as the Major Economic Crimes Bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS).

We provide legal guidance regarding regulations relating to AML compliance, including antiterrorist financing, counterproliferation financing and, more generally, “Know Your Customer” (KYC) regulations. We have substantial experience advising boards on AML compliance and governance issues, including assisting clients in developing and implementing compliance programs. Our lawyers are active in providing investment management and private equity firms, financial institutions and other businesses with AML due diligence in a variety of corporate transactions. Finally, we are well suited to provide policy guidance involving AML legal and regulatory developments, particularly by U.S. and international government and nongovernmental agencies and organizations, including the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF). 

We counsel international banks and financial institutions on the due diligence procedures under FATCA and develop compliance programs to mitigate the risk of noncompliance. We defend international banks and financial institutions in criminal tax matters arising from DOJ investigations, including representing financial institutions in the DOJ Tax Division's Program for Swiss Banks and in the negotiation of deferred prosecution and nonprosecution agreements in other matters.

Representative Engagements

  • representing an executive of a U.S.-based financial institution in a criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York regarding alleged AML deficiencies in relation to a widespread Ponzi scheme
  • successfully defended a corporation accused of participating in a trade-based money laundering scheme; no civil or criminal charges were brought, and the government returned 100 percent of the funds seized from the client
  • representing current and former executives of numerous global financial institutions in nonpublic government (DOJ and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) congressional and internal investigations of alleged violations of U.S. sanctions regulations applicable to banks and alleged deficiencies in AML controls
  • successfully defended a large foreign bank in a high-profile undercover operation conducted by Customs and Border Protection involving the seizure of millions of dollars from the bank and the attempt to have the bank forfeit those sums; we achieved the dismissal of the government’s forfeiture action, the client’s funds were returned with interest, and no other foreign bank that was targeted in the investigation obtained such a favorable result
  • representing a Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region banking client in negotiations with a major U.S. newspaper for allegations concerning its AML systems
  • assisting in the defense of a MENA region bank against claims in the New York courts alleging financial assistance to terrorism
  • representing a major European bank in relation to a money-laundering investigation into a MENA region subsidiary
  • obtaining an apology from a European national government on behalf of a MENA region banking client for public allegations concerning its AML systems
  • conducting a political risk analysis and provided counseling on AML and anticorruption issues, including OFAC and USA PATRIOT Act matters) for a large, multinational investment banking firm
  • obtaining, while serving as a federal prosecutor, a 40-year sentence for a software engineer whose money laundering violations cost his venture capital fund victims more than $20 million
  • representing of a Category 2 Swiss bank in the DOJ Program for Swiss Banks.