On the Legal Agenda for 2013: Oklahoma Attorneys Say Top Issues Expected to Include Money Laundering, Health Care Fraud

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Liability is the keyword for 2013, as the new year promises heightened attention to legal issues involving money laundering, health care fraud and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, local attorneys said.

Enforcement of the Bank Secrecy Act, for example, more formally known as the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970, is being stepped up. Crowe & Dunlevy lawyer Thomas Snyder, who specializes in white-collar crime and investigations, said that historically BSA money-laundering oversight has been somewhat lax, invoked in the investigations of other crimes.

However, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been focusing more on money laundering as the primary crime itself. Several anti-money laundering investigations made the headlines in 2012, including a nearly $2 billion settlement by European banking giant HSBC Holdings Plc this month, following allegations by U.S. regulators that it laundered funds of sanctioned nations such as Iran. Another European icon, Standard Chartered Bank, likewise was slapped with a $330 million penalty for similar laundering allegations.

Snyder said the investigative pressure will only continue into 2013 as U.S. agencies respond to congressional and consumer criticism.

"That means they'll be directly investigating banks," Snyder said. "There's a number of regulations that we're expecting to come online - customer due diligence issues in which the bank is expected to do background checks on who they're dealing with.

"In conjunction with that, we're expecting to see an increase in the focus on individual liability for officers and directors who may have knowledge or be involved with noncompliance," he said. "It's going to be a major focus for banks and other financial institutions."

Joe Edwards, also of the Crowe & Dunlevy firm, said lawyers have seen a tremendous change in regulatory focus on finances in the U.S. Edwards focuses on financial fraud and related crimes. He said the Justice Department in 2012 expanded its foreign fraud division and substantially increased its number of investigations. And through the third quarter of the year, two of nine federal foreign corrupt practices indictments in the U. …