Sunday, January 18, 2009


Article 47 of Anti Money Laundering Act 2001 (Act 613):

47. Advocates and solicitors to disclose information.

(1) Notwithstanding any other law, a Judge of the High Court may, on application being made to him in relation to an investigation into any offence under subsection 4(1), order an advocate and solicitor to disclose information available to him in respect of any transaction or dealing relating to any property which is liable to seizure under this Act.

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) shall require an advocate and solicitor to comply with any order under that subsection to the extent that such compliance would disclose any privileged information or communication which came to his knowledge for the purpose of any pending proceedings.


Anti Money Laundering Act 2001 (Act 613) (AMLA)

The AMLA, which came into force on 15 January 2002 criminalises money laundering of proceeds from the predicate offences and provides for suspicious transaction reporting, record-keeping and the functions of a financial intelligence unit that could co-operate with domestic as well as foreign enforcement agencies. The law also provides for investigation into money laundering activities, law enforcement agencies to freeze, seize and forfeit proceeds from predicate offences as well as prosecution of money launderers. Advocate & Solicitor is defined as one of the ‘Reporting Institution’ under the Anti Money Laundering Act 2001

The AMLA was amended and the amendment was gazetted as law in December 2003 in line with the amendment to the Penal Code to deal with terrorism financing. Under Section 130 (o) of the Penal Code, lawyers and accountants would be committing an offence if they provide financial services or facilities to any terrorist, terrorist entity or terrorist group wherein they know or have reasonable grounds to believe that that in whole or in part the services or facilities will be used or will benefit any terrorist, terrorist entity or terrorist group.


Failure to report a suspicious transaction is an offence which carries a maximum fine of RM250,000 imposed under the AMLA.

The law provides civil and criminal immunity for persons disclosing or supplying information pursuant to the Act, except where it is done in bad faith.

The legal professional privilege between the Advocate & Solicitor and his/her client is overridden by the Act for the purposes of the reporting obligation and will not excuse the Advocate & Solicitor from any failure to report a suspicious transaction.

According to an amendment to the Penal Code, the penalty would be death if the Act results in death and in any other case with imprisonment for a term of not less than 7 years but not exceeding 30 years apart from a fine.


The Bar Council has set up the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Task Force and is in the process of introducing a set of guidelines and procedures for the implementation of Customer Due Diligence (CDD) – “Know Your Client”. Minimum information to be obtained from the client will include basic identification information, contact information, background information, country of origin, etc.

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