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Event: Has the Legal Profession Lost its Moral Compass? The Panama Papers, Lawyers’ Professional Ethics and Due Diligence Obligations

As Co-Chair of the Middle East Committee of the American Bar Association Section of International Law, MassPoint’s Hdeel Abdelhady organized and will moderate a program on lawyers’ obligations to detect and report illicit client activity, in particular money laundering.

Lawyers in the EU, for example, have been required for years to perform client due diligence and file suspicious activity reports (SARs) in accordance EU anti-money laundering directives. U.S. lawyers have no parallel obligations; however, U.S. lawyers are prohibited by rules of professional conduct from knowingly allowing their services to be used for unlawful purposes.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has described the inapplicability to U.S. lawyers of customer due diligence (CDD) and SAR filing requirements as a weak spot in the U.S. anti-money laundering framework. Members of Congress have introduced legislation to apply such obligations to U.S. lawyers, and to require U.S. lawyers to collect and share with law enforcement authorities beneficial ownership information where lawyers directly form companies, trusts, and certain other entities for clients.

Among the issues raised by these proposals is whether they undermine the confidentiality of lawyer-client relationships and communications. Moreover, the proposals raise practical questions about the effectiveness of SARs generally and where filed by lawyers (such as in the UK).

A distinguished panel will explore these and related issues during this program, which is scheduled to take place at the ABA Section of International Law Spring Meeting in April 2017.

View the full program description with speaker bios here.

ABA Section of International Law Spring Meeting
April 28, 2017
Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C.

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Robert Bourns
President, Law Society of England and Wales

Geoffrey Hazard
Emeritus Thomas E. Miller Distinguished Professor of Law,
University of California Hastings College of the Law

Honorable James Robertson
Mediator and Arbitrator, JAMS
Judge (Ret.), U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Former President, District of Columbia Bar

Kevin Shepherd
Partner, Venable LLP and American Bar Association Board of Governors Liaison
to American Bar Association Task Force on Gatekeeper Regulation and the Profession

Gary Sutton
Senior Legal Advisor for Financial Crime, Office of General Counsel,
United States Department of the Treasury

Moderator and Program Chair

Hdeel Abdelhady
Principal, MassPoint Legal and Strategy Advisory PLLC
Co-Chair, ABA Middle East Committee

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