Summit of the Americas
Ministerial Conference Concerning the Laundering of Proceeds and Instrumentalities of Crime
(Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 2, 1995)
The Heads of State and Government of the Western Hemisphere agreed at the Summit
of the Americas in December, 1994, that the was a need for intensified action
by all of their Governments, individually and collectively, to address the problem
of illicit production and trafficking of drugs and their illegal use, as well
as the laundering of the proceeds, property, and instrumentalities used in criminal
activities (hereinafter referred to as money laundering).
The Heads of State and Government noted the work of the 1992 San Antonio Summit
and endorsed the efforts of the Inter-'american commission on Drug Abuse Control
(CICAD). They also agreed to "hold a working-level conference, to be followed
by a ministerial conference, to study and agree on a coordinated hemispheric
response, including consideration of an inter- American convention, to combat
In accordance with the Summit of the Americas decisions, working level conferences
were held in Washington, D.C., April 19-20, June 22-23, and November 20-21,
1995 to prepare for a ministerial conference.
In further fulfillment of the Summit mandate, the Ministers representing the
thirty-four participating States of the Summit of the Americas, and responsible
for addressing the problem of money laundering, met in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The Ministers endorsed the following principles, and in accordance with, inter
alia, the obligations undertaken by their Governments upon ratification of the
1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and
Psychotropic Substances (the 1988 UN Convention) agreed to recommend to their
Governments a Plan of Action for a coordinated hemispheric response to combat
money laundering. Ministers from the Governments of Belize, Jamaica, and Saint
Lucia, which are considering ratification of the 1988 UN Convention, have also
endorsed this Statement of Principles and agreed to recommend the Plan of Action
to their Governments for adoption and implementation.
This action plan should not be interpreted as an intent to discourage the flow
of licit capital and investments among countries. The Ministers reaffirmed the
commitment made by their Governments in the Summit of the Americas Action Plan
that investments are the fundamental component of the economic growth in the
Western Hemisphere. The Ministers emphasized that investments and the liberalization
and integration of markets should be encouraged; as well as the commitment of
countries to strengthen the mechanisms for the promotion and protection of the
flow of capital and investments in the region.
The Ministers agreed to take all necessary measures, including legislative
and administrative, in conformity with their national constitutional principles,
laws and the basic concepts of their legal systems, to combat money laundering
on a hemispheric level in full accordance with he definitions established in
the 1988 UN Convention, where applicable.
- Criminalization of drug money laundering offenses in an obligation of the
1988 UN Convention. The transfer, conversion and investment of illicit proceeds
from drug trafficking and non-drug trafficking related serous crimes constitute
a serious challenge to the maintenance of law and order throughout the Hemisphere
and may threaten the integrity, reliability, and stability of governments,
financial systems, and commerce. Therefore, it is necessary for all Summit
of the Americas participant States to make the laundering of proceeds of serious
crimes (those predicate offenses defined in national legislation which give
rise to money laundering) a criminal offense. Serious crimes, property and
instrumentalities of crime will be defined by the legislation of each country.
- Measures to facilitate the prevention, investigation and persecution of
money laundering should be implemented by all Governments. Persons who commit
crimes should be deprived of the use of the proceeds and profits of their
illegal activities, as well as property used to commit the illegal activities.
Therefore, laws, regulations, and other policies should be issued or revised
to deal with this crime and effectively facilitate the identification, seizure,
and forfeiture of the proceeds and instrumentalities, in response to domestic
and international investigations.
- Governments should implement necessary measures to empower their courts
or competent authorities to share financial and commercial information where
requested through appropriate authorities for the purpose of investigating
or prosecuting money laundering offenses.
- Each Government of the hemisphere shares a direct interest in full compliance
with existing international agreements on money laundering, particularly the
obligations, declarations, and principles contained in the 1988 UN Convention.
Also, they recommend the adoption of laws which are compatible with the Model
Regulations concerning Laundering Offenses connected to Illicit Drug Trafficking
and Related Offenses of OAS/CICAD Model Regulations). In accordance with this
hemispheric approach to counter money laundering, the members of the Caribbean
Financial Action Task Force reaffirm their commitment to the recommendations
contained in the Kingston Declaration and recommend that non-members consider
the adoption of those Kingston Declaration Recommendations which may be applicable.
B. PLAN OF ACTION
- In relation to the decision adopted by the Heads of State and Government
to instruct the Ministers "to study and agree on a coordinated hemispheric
response, including the consideration of an Inter-American Convention, to
combat money laundering", the Ministers recommend to submit to the OAS,
the establishment of a Working Group to consider this suggestion and to identify
the priorities for basic harmonization of national laws directed at the same
- The Ministers further reached the following conclusions concerning the coordinated
hemispheric response, in legal, regulatory and enforcement matters that will
allow rapid progress in the struggle against criminal activities related to
money laundering. Consequently, the Ministers support and firmly recommend
the implementation of the following Plan of Action.
C. LEGAL ACTIONS
- The laundering of the proceeds of serious crimes should be made a criminal
offense in domestic legislation. Such legislation should make possible the
identification, seizure and forfeiture of the proceeds and instrumentalities
of such crimes. In addition, domestic laws and regulation should be adopted
and implemented, and international instruments facilitating the investigation
and prosecution of money laundering crimes and the seizure and forfeiture
of the proceeds therefrom require the close cooperation of the international
community in the exchange of information and evidence.
- In addition to the above, it is necessary to enact those measures required
that will allow financial institutions to provide, in accordance with legal
procedures, to competent national authorities information about the identity
of their clients, bank account activity, and other financial transactions,
and which at the same time will permit the sharing of such information among
different countries for the investigation and prosecution of money laundering
crimes. The information exchange between different countries must be performed
in agreement with the national laws and applicable international judicial
instruments, using competent authorities.
- In order to investigate and prosecute money laundering, to facilitate the
exchange of evidence and information among the countries of the hemisphere,
and to break down barriers which impede the exchange of such information,
if the fundamental principles of their legal systems permit, Governments should:
- Ratify where applicable, and implement the 1988 UN Convention, and enact
the pertinent legislation for its full application;
- Adopt domestically, where applicable, laws compatible with the OAS/CICAD
- Enact and implement legislation to permit the seizure and forfeiture of
the proceeds of money laundering, as well as enact laws that make it possible
to provide an adequate response to requests for legal assistance from other
- Conclude and implement bilateral and multilateral agreements to allow for
the equitable sharing between Governments of property that has been forfeited
as the result of cooperative efforts in the investigation and prosecution
of money laundering cases;
- Consider enacting and enforcing domestic laws which approve the use of investigative
techniques, such as undercover police operations and electronic surveillance
with judicial approval, to facilitate the identification and prosecution of
all members of criminal organizations and the forfeiture of the proceeds of
their criminal organizations and the forfeiture of the proceeds of their criminal
- Review laws pertaining to bank secrecy and assess the extent to which these
laws permit disclosure of financial institutions' records to competent authorities.
- Foster the adoption of necessary legislative, regulatory and other measures
to ensure the at clear and complete records are maintained to describe accurately
financial transactions and that the records be preserved and be made available,
as appropriate, to competent authorities;
- Consider negotiating and implementing international agreements for the direct
exchange of financial information, such as cash transaction, stock-exchange
transaction, currency exchange, and international transportation of currency;
- Conclude and implement bilateral and multilateral mutual legal assistance
treaties to facilitate the exchange of evidence and information in cases of
money laundering investigations and prosecutions and in the identification,
seizure, and forfeiture of proceeds and property of such crime; and
- Conclude and implement extradition treaties to facilitate the efficient
persecution of money laundering offenses.
D. REGULATORY ACTIONS
- Only a comprehensive anti-money laundering program, including effectively
enforced laws, regulations and policies, will contribute to the prevention,
investigation and persecution of money laundering offenses and the identification,
seizure, and forfeiture of the proceeds of these offenses.
- Financial institutions and their regulatory and supervisory authorities
should work together in an effort to prevent the crime of money laundering
and assist competent authorities to apply administrative and criminal sanctions.
Financial institutions, including non-bank financial institutions, should
report suspicious or unusual transactions to competent authorities. Consequently,
we encourage States which do not require such reporting to begin considering
the adoption of such measures. Financial institutions reporting suspicious
or unusual transactions should be insulated from civil liability for reporting
in good faith. Financial institutions should formulate and implement comprehensive
programs and general procedures to ensure compliance with existing laws and
statutes against money laundering.
- Numerous Governments of the Hemisphere have enacted measures for the recording
and/or reporting of large currency transactions and the international transportation
of currency, bearer instruments, and other monetary instruments, including
travelers checks, bank drafts, cashier's checks and similar instruments. Recognizing
that criminals smuggle their currency and such instruments from country to
country to evade these requirements, all Governments should consider establishing
and implementing regulations for the recording and/or reporting, to competent
authorities within its own country, of large transactions in currency and
such instruments and the transportation of such currency and instruments across
- The regulatory and/or oversight agencies should be vested with sufficient
authority to formulate and implement general norms and proceedings against
the laundering of money, to perform adequate oversight and supervision of
financial institutions and, where applicable, to impose administrative sanctions
when an institution does not comply with the aforementioned rules and procedures.
- Representatives of government, law enforcement and financial institutions
shall analyze, on a periodic basis, anti-money laundering norms, and shall
evaluate evolving technologies which may be used in money laundering, and
shall formulate recommendations for action.
- Governments shall evaluate the use of the domestic and international funds
transfer systems for money laundering derived from serious crimes, and in
light of that evaluation, develop appropriate record keeping requirements
for financial institutions and wire transmitters.
- In order to implement the aforementioned actions the Governments should,
in accordance with their constitutions and domestic laws, adopt rules, laws
and regulations that are consistent with the provisions and recommendations
of the OAS/CICAD Model Regulations.
E. ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS
- Only through the full and effective enforcement of laws and regulations
can money laundering be prevented and made punishable, and the proceeds from
illicit drug trafficking and other criminal activities be seized and forfeited.
The effective enforcement of laws and regulations requires the accurate and
timely identification of persons, accounts, and commercial transactions related
to, and property derived from, illegal activities. The collection and analysis
of such information in a timely fashion, as well as the aggressive pursuit
of criminals, have resulted in the disruption of criminal organizations and
the seizure and forfeiture of their criminally derived property. In order
to facilitate the enforcement of laws and regulations designed to prevent
and penalize money laundering, Governments will consider taking the following
measures, to the extent compatible with their national legal systems.
- Promote the creation of a national forfeiture fund to administer forfeited
property and authorize its use or allocation to support the programs of law
enforcement authorities, social programs such as education, crime prevention
and health-related programs, or other purposes to be determined by each Government;
- Establish or designate, in accordance with their respective resources and
abilities, a center in each country for the collection, analysis, and sharing
with competent authorities, all relevant information related to money laundering
to ensure effective enforcement of each country's laws and regulations. Develop
preventative strategies and methodologies to fight this crime and, to that
end, create interactive groups that bring together the public and private
- Authorities of each country, under terms of the Universal Postal Union Conventions
and in accordance with its legal systems, will take the measures necessary
to prevent the utilization of postal services for the commission of money
laundering offenses; and
- Establish programs for the exchange and training of law enforcement officers,
including financial institution and non-bank financial institution regulators,
in anti-money laundering investigations and procedures. In addition, establish
training courses for bankers, regulators, police, prosecutors and judicial
officials to improve their knowledge of money laundering and the means to
F. PROGRESS EVALUATION
- Only the full and effective implementation of each step of this coordinated
hemispheric response can guarantee its success. Accordingly, Governments should
press ahead with this Plan of Action to achieve the coordinated hemispheric
response to money laundering mandated by the Heads of State and Government
at the Summit of the Americas. Further, Governments intend to institute ongoing
assessments of the implementation of this Plan of Action within the OAS framework.