September 2014



09/09/2014 Cuba’s Ministry of Justice releases a new resolution extending anti-money laundering/terrorist financing obligations to lawyers, notaries and legal consultants

In a bid to forward the aims of combatting money laundering and terrorist financing, the Cuban Ministry of Justice recently released a resolution requiring lawyers, legal consultants and notaries to make suspicious transaction reports. This is in line with President Raúl Castro’s Decree 317[1] (released late last year), which indicated that Cuba intends to reform economic crime standards. 

Current regulation in respect of economic crime is effective on financial institutions and representative offices, including foreign and other legal and natural persons of the state and private sector, but not legal professionals. To address this gap the resolution extends anti-money laundering (AML) / counter terrorist financing (CTF) obligations to legal professionals. The resolution requires the vigilance and integrity of legal professionals in reporting suspicious transactions to strengthen the fight against economic crimes.

The new resolution requires lawyers, legal consultants and notaries to report to the Directorate General of Research Financial Operations of the Central Bank of Cuba (a newly appointed centralreporting unit)  suspicions of ‘presumed laundering, terrorist financing, weapons proliferation and other related activity of similar gravity[2]’.

Cuba has also gone beyond immediate challenges and has indicated that they will be setting up standards of control for anticipated future challenges, such as new technologies and the globalisation of economic relations. What is evident is that Cuba is thinking of the wider implications of economic crime, as providing protection in this regard to safeguard economic relations will benefit international trade and finance.

Cuba is currently rated as having ‘strategic deficiencies’ by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has signed a formal agreement with a plan to address this. The plan includes enhancing suspicious activity reporting and setting up a centralised reporting office, which Cuba has addressed to some extent with this new resolution. This is a promising step towards complying with some of FATF’s recommendations, as it shows Cuba is open to implementing more robust legislation and procedures. Additionally, FATF have indicated that Cuba has made significant progress to address its strategic deficiencies and has substantially addressed its action plan. Effective implementation of this resolution will further assist in raising Cuba’s profile in respect of addressing its ‘strategic deficiencies’.

What remains to be seen is whether there will be effective compliance, adequate monitoring and appropriate enforcement where necessary, to meet the aims of this resolution.

We will soon be updating our country template for Cuba with detailed information relevant for legal professionals.

Prepared by:

Elizabeth Ezeogu
Legal Intern
Legal Projects Team