As governments globally increase their anti-money laundering (AML) efforts in a commendable effort to fight financial crime, some regulators are unfortunately less interested in actual AML, and see AML fines and confiscations as another way to collect revenue.
Fines for actual financial crime should be issued, but we increasingly see fines that are levied as a method for a regulator to burnish their reputation and collect revenue, and where no predicate crimes or sanctions violations can actually be identified.
This practice, legally termed “civil asset forfeiture” or colloquially, “policing for profit,” is very controversial, and is opposed among others, by the American Civil Liberties Union. We expect this trend of dubious government confiscation and fines to continue, as regulators internationally seize upon new legal tools and regulations to fill up their budgets.
For organizations or individuals who are unjustly fined, or whose accounts that have been unjustly frozen, Fara Group provides several levels of support.
Expert reports – Our team of financial and legal experts perform independent review and opinions regarding the legal basis for authorities to freeze funds, or lack thereof. The reports include a summary of alleged legal grounds under which funds were frozen, a watchlist screen and related analysis; a predicate crimes assessment; and an opinion of how similar matters would be treated in European and US courts. Each account’s risk profile particulars are also assessed. These authoritative reports, as well as testimony by our experts, can be used as evidence in both local courts and international tribunals.
Advocacy – If the case is strongly in favor of our client (the account holder), reports can be used to persuade relevant authorities whether they be helpful, hostile or neutral, that the client in this case has their funds unjustly detained. We identify which government offices and officials could support evidence-based decision making and then reach out to these individuals and offices. We work to identify and resolve all items blocking the release of the funds, whether they be bureaucratic, political, or legal. As necessary, we can present findings to key stakeholders and coordinate with clients’ designated legal counsel.