Summit of the Americas

    Ministerial Conference Concerning the Laundering of Proceeds and Instrumentalities of Crime
    Ministerial Communiqué
    (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 money laundering."

    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.

    A.

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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

    1. 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 purpose.
    2. 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

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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:
    4. Ratify where applicable, and implement the 1988 UN Convention, and enact the pertinent legislation for its full application;
    5. Adopt domestically, where applicable, laws compatible with the OAS/CICAD Model Regulations;
    6. 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 Governments;
    7. 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;
    8. 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 activities;
    9. Review laws pertaining to bank secrecy and assess the extent to which these laws permit disclosure of financial institutions' records to competent authorities.
    10. 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;
    11. 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;
    12. 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
    13. Conclude and implement extradition treaties to facilitate the efficient persecution of money laundering offenses.

    D. REGULATORY ACTIONS

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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 national borders.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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

    1. 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.
    2. 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;
    3. 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 sectors;
    4. 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
    5. 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 prevent it.

    F. PROGRESS EVALUATION

    1. 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.