Avocat, rechtsanwalt or agent of the state?. Anti-money laundering compliance strategies of French and German lawyers

Date06 April 2020
Publication Date06 April 2020
AuthorOla Svenonius,Ulrika Mörth
SubjectAccounting & Finance,Financial risk/company failure,Financial compliance/regulation,Financial crime
Avocat, rechtsanwalt or agent
of the state?
Anti-money laundering compliance strategies
of French and German lawyers
Ola Svenonius
Department of Defence Analytics, Swedish Defence Research Agency,
Stockholm, Sweden, and
Ulrika Mörth
Department of Political Science, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to analyse how lawyersin two of the largest European economies
manage the contradictoryrequirements set by anti-money laundering and counter-terrorismnancing (AML/
CTF) legislationon the one hand and professional codesof ethics on the other hand.
Design/methodology/approach The study is based on qualitative interviews with French and
German lawyers. It asks How do Europeanlawyers handle the conicting demands ensuing from theirroles
as frontlines workers?The paper uses lawyersday-to-day practices and variations in member states
transpositionsof the European Union directives as a starting pointto study AML/CTF in the miniscule.
Findings The article shows that contextualinstitutional restraints and cultural factors have signicant
impact on the possibilityto enlist for-prot actors in the ght against terrorism an organisedcrime.
Research limitations/implications This research highlights several factorsinherent in AML/CTF
regulation that warrant further research. Not only should further work be carried to broaden the
understandingof lawyers but also other actors included in this policy area.
Practical implications The study explains why French and German lawyers do not comply as
expected by the legislator. If increased compliance is required, then the paper provides input into what
measurescan be taken, by policy, enforcementand supervision.
Originality/value The study focusses on a hard-to-reach group of actors in AML/CTF regulationthat
has never before been studied in detail. As recent scandals have shown, lawyers are key actors in global
nance buthave rarely been scrutinised in their AML compliancenorms and routines.
Keywords Germany, France, Compliance, Lawyers, Anti-money laundering regulation,
Non-nancial sector
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Terrorism and organised crime is a high priority on the European Unions (EU) security
agenda. A large literature has developedon EU security policy, especially with regard to the
inclusion of non-state actors in security governance and intelligence (Abrahamsen et al.,
2009;Bures and Carrapico, 2017;van Steden and Sarre, 2007;Helgesson and Mörth, 2012;
Vlcek, 2018). A fundamental aspect of the EUs counter-terrorism efforts is anti-money
laundering and counter-terrorism nancing (AML/CTF), which includes the obligation of
This work was nanced by the Swedish Research Council, Grant No. HS 2014-648.
Strategies of
French and
Journalof Money Laundering
Vol.23 No. 4, 2020
pp. 849-862
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JMLC-09-2019-0069
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