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Lawyers frequently find themselves caught between their obligations to governmental authorities and their fidelity to their clients. This becomes particularly problematic when, as intermediaries in business transactions, they become aware of, or are requested to facilitate, illicit financial flows (IFFs). Lawyers can become complicit in, or even initiate, economic crime, as the case studies in this report show. They may become complicit through negligence. The extent to which this occurs on a global scale was revealed by the Panama and Paradise papers, but it is of particular concern for developing economies, where such crimes can have especially devastating effects. Recognizing the dilemma lawyers face when caught between an oath to client confidentiality and a responsibility to report financial misconduct, this report suggests ways in which they might contribute to anti-money-laundering (AML) measures, in particular stressing the importance of client due diligence (CDD), the involvement of lawyers in national risk assessments and the need to tailor combating strategies to judicial environments.

Not above the law? The role of lawyers in combating money laundering and illicit asset flows.

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Author

Charles Togarepi Goredema

Charles Togarepi Goredema is the founding Director of Informed Solutions to Economic Crime in Africa, a consultancy which collects, collates and analyses information relevant to mitigating the incidence and impact of cross border economic crime in Africa. He led a team which conducted research into, and provided capacity support to combat organised crime in Africa while he was with the Institute for Security Studies. His work then covered southern Africa, but has since extended beyond the sub-region to track the major routes and trends of illicit asset transfers affecting African economies.

His recent research has focused on the implications of globalisation for trends of cross-border economic crime, and on the intersections between urbanisation and criminal governance. His work touches on the impact of trans-national crime on effective public resource mobilisation through taxation. Charles has assisted international institutions such as the African Development Bank, the African Legal Support Facility and the Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) to develop (or monitor the implementation of) strategic plans targeting illicit financial flows.

Charles is a lawyer by profession, holding qualifications from the University of Zimbabwe and the University of London.

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