EU Advocate General Advises Applying Money Laundering Directive to Lawyers

IMPORTANT: The full content of this page is available to premium users only.

Thursday, February 1, 2007
Bruce Zagaris

On December 14, 2006, the European Union Advocate General (AG) advised applying the EU’s Second Directive on Money Laundering to attorneys1, notwithstanding the attorney-client privilege and right of confidentiality.  The AG opinion recommended exempting lawyers from suspicious activity report (SAR) filing requirements involving conduct “before, during or after a judicial proceeding or during the provision of legal advice.”2  The AG’s opinion is considered critical to the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) ultimate decision on a challenge to the Second Directive brought by four European bar associations.  The bar associations argue that the Second Directive provisions governing SAR reporting by lawyers acting as financial institutions violate EU law.

            1              Council Directive 2001/97/EC of December 4, 2001, modifying Articles 2 bis, point 5 and 6 of the Council’s Directive 91/308/EEC of June 10, 1991.

            2              Conclusions of L’Avocat Général M.M. Poiares Maduro, Affaire C-305/05, Order des barreaux francophones et germanophone et contra Counseil des ministres (French and German Bar Associations v. Council of Ministers) (from a  decision issued by the Belgian Arbitral Court) Dec. 14, 2006.