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GW Law Program: The lawyer as the gatekeeper against corruption (March 22)

In January, CBS’s 60 Minutes aired Anonymous, Inc. in which a person with Global Witness, pretending to be a lawyer representing a minister from a poor West African country, sought legal advice about investing millions of dollars into the United States.

The African minister supposedly had earned a fortune by “collecting special payments from foreign companies that he’d helped obtain valuable mineral rights.” The minister did not want his identity disclosed.

The Global Witness “impostor” secretly recorded meetings with 16 lawyers in New York with only one of the lawyers advising that he would not discuss the subject. The other lawyers, including the then ABA President, while not agreeing to represent the minister, discussed how to structure investment in the United States to keep the identity of the minister hidden. 

CBS and Global Witness acknowledge that the lawyers did not engage in wrongdoing, either legally or ethically.

Nevertheless, what transpired should cause the legal profession to reflect on its role in countering international money laundering. 

  • Should all of the lawyers have refused to meet with the representative once they heard that the minister from Africa was trying to keep his identity secret while investing money in the United States? 
  • If no, what limits exist on lawyers in this situation? 
  • Should new rules be imposed so that lawyers can take a more pro-active role in fight international money laundering? 
  • What does the scenario mean for the lawyer facing other forms of corruption?

This panel discussion will examine these and related issues. 

The program is free and open to the public.

*     *     *

The Lawyer as the gatekeeper against corruption

Tuesday, March 22
10-11:30 AM

The George Washington University Law School, Jacob Burns Moot Court Room

Introduction: Associate Dean Susan Karamanian, GW Law

Chair: Assistant Dean Jessica Tillipman, GW Law


  • Homer Moyer, Miller Chevalier
  • Tara Giunta, Paul Hastings
  • Professor Peter Margulies, Roger Williams School of Law

No RSVP necessary


Jessica Tillipman is a Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog and Assistant Dean at The George Washington Univeristy Law School. You can follow her on Twitter at @jtillipman.

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1 Comment

  1. Clearly the one lawyer had a personal ethical code and personal best practices that reach a higher standard than what either the law or the legal profession requires. So, the question seems to be, how do we get more lawyers like the one and fewer lawyers like the fifteen? Just as some lawyers do pro bono most do not, these things are left to the lawyers themselves . Lawyers will always hide behind the fig leaf defense of "I didn't make the law" and the profession itself requires lawyers to be prepared to prosecute Christ or defend the devil. That is the job. It should be an interesting panel discussion. The article was silent on the point, did the fifteen get a fee for their advice, or was their advice pro bono?

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