Anti-Money Laundering

Clients routinely turn to Davis Polk for counsel on enforcement matters involving anti-money laundering (AML) laws and regulations. Our seasoned litigators and regulatory lawyers have handled high-profile matters involving compliance with and alleged violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), USA PATRIOT Act, U.S. Money Laundering Control Act, anti-terrorism financing laws, and related regulations.

Our partners have served in senior positions in the Department of Justice and Treasury Department with responsibility for money laundering and national security prosecutions and policy, including:

  • Former Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division
  • Former Deputy Assistant Attorneys General of the Criminal Division
  • Former United States Attorneys, who led their offices in bringing money-laundering-related cases
  • Former member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, involved in prosecuting money-laundering-related offenses

Davis Polk also routinely advises financial institutions in across-the-board reviews of their compliance programs and policies in the AML/BSA area. This work is enhanced by our deep experience in financial institution operations and regulation.  Working closely with in-house teams, we:

  • Efficiently pinpoint areas of greatest concern and regulatory vulnerability, based on risk assessments and our experience with regulators’ current and anticipated points of focus
  • Recommend concrete steps to address gaps in oversight, training, auditing, and risk-based resource allocation
  • Identify areas for enhancement, taking into account the client’s role in the financial system and areas of greatest exposure

Notable Matters

Litigation and Investigations
  • The former CEO of a global financial institution in investigations by U.S. authorities into money laundering allegations against the bank, following widely publicized revelations of certain lapses in the institution's anti­money laundering protocols at a European branch.
  • Intesa Sanpaolo in connection with an industry-wide, multiyear criminal and civil investigation by OFAC, DOJ and the Manhattan DA's Office into alleged violations of U.S. sanctions and AML laws relating to USD transactions involving Iran, Cuba, Libya and Sudan. We also represented the bank in connection with a consent order issued by the NY DFS imposing a $235 million civil monetary penalty related to AML issues.
  • Clearstream Banking S.A. in an OFAC investigation, U.S. Attorney's Office investigation and parallel civil litigation in the Southern District of New York focusing on historical business with customers in sanctioned countries. We also advised Clearstream on the enhancement of its sanctions and BSA/AML compliance program, which has set new standards for the industry and critical market infrastructure.
  • Several clients including a financial institution, an oil & gas company, an engineering firm, and a real estate firm in connection with the massive Lava Jato corruption investigations, also known as Operation Car Wash, arising out of the Petrobras scandal in Brazil. This is currently one of the largest FCPA cases in the world
  • A leading global financial institution with respect to multiple internal investigations of potential violations of U.S. economic sanctions and anti-money laundering laws in Asia and the Middle East, including advising on strategy for interactions with U.S. and other regulators and authorities. This relationship expanded dramatically in 2015 and 2016, as new sanctions-related issues were identified by internal investigations. As part of these investigations, we provide regular briefings to U.S. regulators and the court-appointed monitor of the bank.
  • A global bank in Brazil-related investigations arising from the FIFA corruption prosecution.
  • A global financial institution in an SEC investigation involving disclosures relating to sanctions and AML compliance program issues. The matter resulted in the closure of the investigation with no charges pursued.
  • A major U.S. bank in a lawsuit alleging that the bank's failure to adequately monitor a customer's account aided and abetted a fraud and constituted commercial bad faith.
  • A global European based financial institution in connection with a DOJ criminal investigation into the bank's dollar-clearing activities, OFAC compliance procedures and other Bank Secrecy Act compliance matters.
  • A major financial institution in connection with a series of investigations into the provision of private banking services to public figures through offshore trust vehicles and accounts located in secrecy jurisdictions in alleged violation of AML laws. We also represented this financial institution in connection with a follow-on investigation of private banking conducted by the U.S. Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
  • A large financial institution in connection with an industry-wide investigation into allegations of money laundering in the provision of correspondent banking services, as well as in connection with a follow-on investigation conducted by the U.S. Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
  • A private equity and venture capital firm in connection with an FCPA and AML internal investigation.
  • The former Chief Compliance Officers of two major financial institutions inparallel criminal and civil investigations by the Manhattan DA, DOJ, Federal Reserve and New York State Financial Services Authority regarding alleged violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran and anti-money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act provisions.
 Compliance and Regulation
  • Conducting a review of a U.S. bank's AML policies and procedures for its fund administrator subsidiary that services hedge funds and private equity fund clients, with specific emphasis on KYC / customer due diligence ("CDD") requirements, including benchmarking best practices in the industry.
  • Conducting a review of a U.S. financial institution's global sanctions and AML compliance policies, including mapping to U.S. regulations, statutes and regulatory guidance.
  • Conducting a review of a U.S. bank's AML policies and procedures for its fund administrator subsidiary that services hedge funds and private equity fund clients.
  • Advising the U.S. head offices of global financial institutions in connection with their efforts to reconcile U.S. AML compliance obligations with the bank secrecy obligations imposed on branch and affiliate offices located in foreign jurisdictions.
  • Conducting an AML compliance review for a global financial institution focusing on risk management, training, and compliance culture.
  • Assisting banks and other financial institutions on suspicious activity reporting and currency transaction reporting issues. On numerous occasions, we have participated in the review of account and client activity and information to determine whether reporting thresholds have been met. We have also provided related advice as to account disposition subsequent to the filing of a suspicious activity report (SAR).
  • Advising private equity and hedge funds regarding appropriate AML and sanctions provisions in their subscription materials and suitable due diligence on prospective investors and transferees, including politically exposed persons and other high-risk customers.
  • Conducting a regulator-driven sanctions compliance review for a global payment services provider.
  • Providing AML advice to JPMorgan Chase regarding the potential applicability of the USA PATRIOT Act and the BSA to non-U.S. subsidiaries of U.S. bank holding companies and funds they operate.