Costa Rica

Last Updated: 09/10/2014


CENTRAL AUTHORITY FOR REPORTING

The central authority that attorneys should eventually report to is the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Costa Rican Drugs Institute (Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera del Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas).


OTHER ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING REGULATOR(S)

In terms of anti-money laundering policies, the Legislative Assembly (Asamblea Legislativa) is the main entity entitled to issue laws in Costa Rica, having issued the current applicable law number 8204 (“Anti-money Laundering Law”). The Executive Branch (Poder Ejecutivo) is entitled, according to the current law, to issue the necessary regulation of the Anti-money Laundering Law, which it did in December 2011 (“Anti-money Laundering Regulation”).

Moreover, the Superintendence of Financial Entities (SUGEF) is the authority entitled to issue the anti-money laundering regulations applicable to financial institutions. SUGEF has issued a regulation for this purpose (Financial Entities Anti-money Laundering Regulation) and is in charge of receiving the reporting and supervising compliance with anti-money laundering rules.


ARE LAWYERS COVERED BY MONEY LAUNDERING LEGISLATION?

The Anti-Money Laundering Law stipulates in Article 15 bis a restrictive list of individuals and legal entities that have reporting obligations before the FIU. Lawyers could fall within the scope of Article 15 (b), which states that individuals who provide professional services to companies must comply with such reporting requirements.

Hence it is not the position as a lawyer that is subject to this regulation but the activities that are undertaken by them such as systematic or substantial transfers of money, granting of loans, etc.


LIST THE LAWS REGARDING ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING, INDICATING WHICH LAWS ARE APPLICABLE TO LAWYERS


ARE VISITING LAWYERS  SUBJECT TO LOCAL LAWS REGARDING ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING, AND, IF SO, TO WHAT EXTENT?

Yes. Individuals are mandated to comply with local laws the moment they enter the country.


LIST ANY MONEY LAUNDERING GUIDANCE FOR LAWYERS (FOR EXAMPLE, LAW SOCIETY OR BAR ASSOCIATION GUIDELINES) CURRENTLY IN PLACE. 

There is no specific guidance for lawyers. The FIU is in the process of issuing a regulation for all the entities and individuals that are subject to article 15 bis (b) of the Anti-money Laundering Law which will include lawyers.


IS THE LAW SOCIETY/BAR ASSOCIATION INVOLVED IN SUPERVISING OR ENFORCING COMPLIANCE WITH ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING REGULATIONS? 

No, it is not.


DESCRIBE CLIENT DUE DILIGENCE REQUIREMENTS, INCLUDING WHEN IT MUST BE UNDERTAKEN BY LAWYERS.

As mentioned before, in accordance to article 15 bis (b) of the Anti-money Laundering Law, lawyers are subject to certain reporting requirements to FIU but there are not any other obligations established. The FIU is drafting a regulation that will detail other specific requirements to be undertaken by lawyers which could include due diligence, identification or know your customer policies. 


DOES YOUR COUNTRY FOLLOW A RISK-BASED APPROACH TO CLIENT DUE DILIGENCE BY LAWYERS? 

Not at this point.


ARE THERE ENHANCED DUE DILIGENCE MEASURES FOR CERTAIN TYPES OF CLIENTS, FOR EXAMPLE, POLITICALLY EXPOSED PERSONS? 

Not for lawyers at this point.


ARE THERE SIMPLIFIED DUE DILIGENCE MEASURES FOR CERTAIN TYPES OF CLIENTS, FOR EXAMPLE, LISTED COMPANIES?

Not for lawyers at this point.


ARE LAWYERS PERMITTED TO RELY ON THIRD PARTY DUE DILIGENCE? IF YES, PLEASE DESCRIBE.

N/A.


WHEN IS A LAWYER UNDER AN OBLIGATION TO REPORT SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTIONS? 

Not required at this point.


DOES ATTORNEY/CLIENT PRIVILEGE AND/OR DUTIES OF CONFIDENTIALITY PROVIDE A DEFENCE OR PARTIAL/TOTAL EXCEPTION TO THE REQUIREMENT TO REPORT SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTIONS? 

N/A.


DOES LOCAL LAW PROVIDE ANY CRIMINAL AND/OR CIVIL INDEMNITY TO A LAWYER WHO HAS REPORTED A SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTION? 

N/A.


ONCE A SUSPICIOUS TRANSACTION REPORT HAS BEEN FILED, IS A LAWYER ALLOWED TO PROCEED WITH THE LEGAL ADVICE/TRANSACTION, AND, IF SO, MUST CONSENT FROM AUTHORITIES BE OBTAINED FIRST? 

N/A.


IS THERE A TIPPING-OFF PROHIBITIONS? IF YES, PLEASE DESCRIBE. 

Lawyers have an obligation to maintain confidentiality in connection with the information they have access to when serving their clients.

There is no anti-money laundering regulation or provision that relieves lawyers from this obligation except when ordered by a court.


DESCRIBE ANY RESTRICTIONS ON ACCEPTING A NEW CLIENT. 

There are no restrictions.


ARE THERE ONGOING MONITORING REQUIREMENTS FOR EXISTING CLIENTS? IF YES, PLEASE DESCRIBE.

Not for lawyers at this point.


DESCRIBE ANY OTHER WAYS IN WHICH LAWYERS ARE AFFECTED BY ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING LEGISLATION. 

None.


HAVE LAWYERS IN YOUR JURISDICTION BEEN IMPLICATED IN MONEY LAUNDERING, INCLUDING ANY TYPE OF COMPLAINT, ARREST OR PROSECUTIONS? 

Last year a lawyer and judge was prosecuted and convicted for charges related to money laundering. He was found guilty of buying a new car with cash under his name but the car was later confiscated from a fisherman accused of being a drug dealer.


HAS THE FINANCIAL ACTION TASK FORCE (FATF) CONDUCTED A MUTUAL EVALUATION OF THIS COUNTRY, AND, IF SO, WHAT WERE THE FINDINGS CONCERNING LAWYERS' COMPLIANCE WITH THE FATF 40+9 RECOMMENDATIONS? 

The FATF conducted an evaluation of the Country in 2005 and produced a set of comments and recommendations. One of the comments made by FATF was that Costa Rica did not include regulations for the supervision and monitoring of Designated non-financial Business and Professions (DNFBPs). Lawyers fall under this category.

 

Information provided by:

BLP Abogados - Costa Rica Office

Andrés López
Centro Empresarial Vía Lindora
Radial Santa Ana-Belén, Km 3
Santa Ana, San José
Costa Rica

Website: www.blplegal.com
General e-mail: contact@blplegal.com