The U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network will soon propose new rules that may require investment advisers to establish and implement written anti-money laundering programs designed to prevent advisory clients from using advisers to launder funds or perpetrate other criminal activities. The rules also may require advisers to report suspicious client activity.

The new rules may be similar in certain respects to rules proposed by Treasury in 2003, when the Department attempted to subject investment advisers to the AML provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act. The 2003 rules would have required advisers to (1) establish and implement policies, procedures and controls reasonably designed to prevent advisers from being used to launder money or finance terrorist activities, (2) provide independent testing of compliance by the advisory firms’ personnel, affiliates or third parties, (3) designate persons responsible for implementing and monitoring the operations and internal controls of the program and (4) provide ongoing training for appropriate persons who are involved with the program.

The new rules are likely to reflect comments received in response to the 2003 proposal and may be informed, in part, by certain practices followed by advisers in offshore jurisdictions. It is unclear whether the rules will require investment advisers to apply their anti-money laundering programs to their clients’ beneficial owners.

If the new rules are adopted, investment advisers will need to review and update their compliance manuals, as necessary, to incorporate anti-money laundering policies and procedures that are tailored to their business, clients and risks. In addition, private offering memoranda, fund governance documents, advisory agreements and other client communications should be updated to include information about the anti-money laundering program and suspicious activity reporting requirements.