Hedge fund managers are often confused about their anti-money laundering (AML) obligations and seem to receive different information from various sources. In general, domestic hedge fund managers do not have any AML obligations. Additionally, it is unlikely that domestic hedge funds will be subject to any AML requirements in the near future.
The rise of the AML regulations came from the PATRIOT ACT, which required financial institutions to adopt AML procedures. These regulations did not apply to domestic hedge funds specifically, but the Treasury promulgated proposed rules which would have applied the AML requirements to domestic hedge funds. The proposed rule would have required hedge funds to (i) have internal AML polices, procedures and controls, (ii) have an AML officer, (iii) have ongoing compliance training for employees and (iv) have an annual audit of the AML program.
An article by the Washington Post recently announced that the Treasury has withdrawn the proposed AML requirements for hedge funds. The article states that the central reason why the AML requirements for hedge funds did not go through is that it is unlikely that terrorist groups would use hedge funds as a way to launder money. The article states that hedge funds may be too risky for terrorists.
This announcement does not affect other financial institutions, such as banks and broker-dealers, which have specific AML and Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements. The fact that the proposal was withdrawn does not mean, however, that hedge funds are free from any sort of AML. As noted above, banks and broker-dealers are subject to their own AML requirements and may require their customers (hedge funds) to also implement AML policies. If a bank or BD does require this, then the hedge fund manager should discuss the situation with the fund’s attorney to determine the appropriate next steps. Offshore hedge funds, too, are subject to the anti-money laundering regulations of the jurisdiction in which they are domiciled. The withdrawal of the proposed AML requirements does not affect these offshore hedge funds.
Please also note that state securities commissions may try to require hedge funds to incorporate AML requirements. Currently we do not know of any state securities commissions with these requirements, but Texas has tried to implement a requirement like this in the past.
Please contact us, or another hedge fund attorney, if you have any questions. Other related HFLB articles include:
- Offshore Hedge Funds Structures and Considerations
- SEC Cracks Down on Lax AML (regarding a broker-dealer)