Legal Professionals as Dirty Money Gatekeepers: The Institutional Problem

Nathanael Tilahun

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Recent reforms to the Financial Action Task Force–led international anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) regime install legal professionals as ‘gatekeepers’ by requiring them, amongst others, to take due diligence measures and report suspicious transactions. These reforms have generated controversy within the national and international associations of legal professionals. This chapter analyses the discourse and policy activities of legal professional associations in order to uncover the roots of the discord between legal professionals and governments regarding gatekeeping obligations. This chapter shows that, underneath the official narrative that depicts lawyers’ resistance to gatekeeping as a fight for the preservation of liberal democratic values, the institutional priorities and characteristics of the profession play the key role in fuelling the resistance. The chapter identifies two such institutional factors – public image and self-governance concerns of legal professionals – and highlights their distinctive implications for the implementation of AML/CTF rules by comparing them with contrasting concerns raised by other gatekeeping actors – namely, bankers. The chapter illustrates that the specific institutional contexts of professional groups influence their gatekeeping role. Therefore, regulatory initiatives that enlist the services of professional actors need to take seriously and engage the institutional dimension of such actors.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAssets, Crimes and the State
    Subtitle of host publicationInnovation in 21st Century Legal Responses
    EditorsKatie Benson, Colin King, Clive Walker
    Place of PublicationMilton Park/New York
    Number of pages14
    ISBN (Electronic)9780429398834
    ISBN (Print)978-0-367-02592-2
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2020

    Publication series

    NameTransnational Criminal Justice series

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Sciences(all)


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