Investigations Practice Background 2

Anti-Money Laundering Investigations


International businesses face increasing risks for enforcement of anti-money laundering (AML) laws from U.S. and foreign regulators and within the U.S., from multiple federal and state regulators. Crowell & Moring helps multinational financial institutions, other covered entities, and non-financial institutions navigate the legal, business, and regulatory AML requirements that arise under the Bank Secrecy Act and other applicable federal, state, and foreign laws.

We routinely work with clients to respond to government investigations and represent clients before U.S. and international regulatory and enforcement agencies. Our team provides day-to-day compliance counseling on AML program and transaction issues; creates and assists with implementing enterprise-wide, risk-based AML programs; seeks interpretive guidance and conducts other regulatory advocacy with relevant agencies; conducts required AML risk assessments; provides training on AML laws and regulations; and drafts and reviews internal policies and procedures. We assist clients in responding to inquiries from regulators, filing Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and other suspicious transaction reports (STRs), and drafting self-disclosures.

Our team represents clients in their interactions with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Department of Justice, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve, and state regulators. Where appropriate, we also partner with our colleagues in London and Brussels to address EU and local AML rules, and EU and local data privacy rules.

We also work with industry groups, including traditional and non-traditional financial institutions, to develop AML best practices. Together with our Government Affairs, Corporate, Financial Services, Insurance and Reinsurance, International Trade, and White Collar and Regulatory Enforcement groups, we help trade associations and other organizations address, comment on, and influence laws, policies and enforcement actions by relevant regulatory agencies.

Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

Alongside our AML practice, we assist a wide array of multinational and U.S. clients in developing and maintaining risk-based sanctions compliance programs. We draft and file license applications and voluntary self-disclosures; advise on responding to sanctions-related inquiries and subpoenas from OFAC, the Department of Justice, and banking regulators; provide regulatory compliance counseling; engage in regulatory advocacy to seek interpretive guidance and needed changes in applicable rules; and provide thoughtful, reliable, day-to-day regulatory counseling. For our cross-border clients, we work to ensure that compliance policies and procedures address blocking statutes, data privacy concerns, and local sanctions requirements.

As active participants in numerous trade associations, we also assist in drafting comments to legislation or proposed rules to ensure clients' concerns are appropriately expressed and, where possible, addressed. We also offer our clients extensive experience on export controls policies and procedures that often arise in relation to sanctions matters.

Representative Matters

  • Represented global financial institution in money laundering investigation involving organized crime and virtual currencies.
  • Represented an international investment bank in determining whether certain cross-border securities and swap transactions established customer relationships under the Bank Secrecy Act.
  • Represented a well-known broker-dealer as lead counsel in FINRA enforcement investigation regarding allegations of trading unregistered securities without appropriate money-laundering detection capabilities in place. Negotiated a favorable settlement with FINRA.
  • Represented non-U.S. financial institution in a $4 billion corruption and money laundering investigation initiated by the U.S. and multiple other jurisdictions.
  • Provided in-person sanctions and AML training to global financial institution's sanctions compliance officers.
  • Acted as seconded in-house counsel to multiple international financial institutions to address AML and sanctions questions.
  • Represented major regional U.S. banks in seeking guidance from FinCEN and banking regulators with respect to AML treatment of premium finance lending activities.
  • Requested interpretive guidance from FinCEN regarding scope of AML program requirements as they relate to automotive industry.
  • Worked with counsel in other jurisdictions to provide cross-border information sharing guidance to clients.
  • Provided AML and general regulatory compliance guidance to global trading platform.
  • Represented the Central Bank of Colombia in an action against a financial institution in connection with a $20 million loss in a structured investment vehicle.
  • Represented firms and individuals in several FINRA enforcement matters that involved alleged AML violations, specifically involving market making and/or retail customer activity — deemed suspicious by FINRA — in low-priced securities that were sometimes delivered in physical certificate form.
  • Represented Chile's Consejo de Defensa del Estado (Attorney General's Office) seeking discovery from several U.S. and foreign banks regarding former President Augusto Pinochet's money laundering and corruption charges.
  • Represented insurance companies offering covered products in developing and maintaining risk-based AML programs.
  • Represented an industry currently exempt from AML program requirements to develop industry best practices for risk-based voluntary compliance with AML guidelines.
  • Represented a broker-dealer in reviewing and updating AML compliance program.
  • Worked with money transmitter to clarify Bank Secrecy Act regulations requirements and to develop a risk-based compliance program.
  • Assisted broker-dealers with questions regarding the adequacy of customer identification documentation.
  • Represented individuals in the garment industry in Los Angeles in connection with investigations involving money laundering.