States’ Varied Compliance with International Anti-money Laundering Standards for Legal Professionals

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Recent reforms in international anti-laundering regime install legal professionals as gatekeepers by requiring them to take certain due diligence measures and actively cooperate with the state. These requirements have generated controversy and varied compliance among states. The prevailing view in legal academia and profession is that compliance with these requirements is inversely related to the resilience of states’ domestic rule of law system. The article critiques this view: the gatekeeping controversy is a debate taking place among different traditions of rule of law, and not creeping-in from outside the bounds of rule of law. By tracing policy documents, prominent judicial decisions and records of activities of legal professional associations, the article shows that states’ divergent compliance is instead a function of (i) a split in the philosophical inclinations of judiciaries over how the legal profession serves the public interest, and (ii) a turf-war over the administration of the legal profession.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-307
Number of pages28
JournalNordic Journal of International Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • anti-money laundering
  • the Financial Action Task Force (fatf)
  • legal professional privilege
  • gatekeeping
  • compliance and resistance


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