Treaties, Agreements, and Asset Sharing

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
March 5, 2013


Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) allow generally for the exchange of evidence and information in criminal and related matters. In money laundering cases, they can be extremely useful as a means of obtaining banking and other financial records from our treaty partners. MLATs, which are negotiated by the Department of State in cooperation with the Department of Justice to facilitate cooperation in criminal matters, are in force with the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dominica, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, the Kingdom of the Netherlands (including Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten), Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom (including the Isle of Man, Cayman Islands, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, and Turks and Caicos), Uruguay, and Venezuela. In addition, on February 1, 2010, 27 U.S.-EU Instruments/Agreements/Protocols entered into force that either supplemented existing MLATs or created new mutual legal assistance relationships between the United States and every member of the EU. A mutual legal assistance agreement has been signed by the United States but not yet brought into force with Colombia. The United States is engaged in negotiating additional MLATs with countries around the world. The United States also has signed and ratified the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance of the Organization of American States, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the 1988 UN Drug Convention.


In addition to MLATs, the United States has a Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement (MLAA) with China, as well as a MLAA between the American Institute in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States. The United States also has entered into bilateral executive agreements on forfeiture cooperation with 19 countries, including: Anguilla, Austria, British Virgin Islands, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Mexico, Monaco, Montserrat, the Netherlands, Singapore, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the United Kingdom, and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey (in drug cases only).

Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or an exchange of letters in place with many other financial intelligence units (FIU) to facilitate the exchange of information between FinCEN and the respective country’s FIU. FinCEN has an MOU or an exchange of letters with the FIUs in Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Fiji, Guatemala, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, the Money Laundering Prevention Commission of Taiwan, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Asset Sharing

Pursuant to the provisions of U.S. law, including 18 U.S.C. § 981(i), 21 U.S.C. § 881(e)(1)(E), and 31 U.S.C. § 9703(h)(2), the Departments of Justice, State, and Treasury have aggressively sought to encourage foreign governments to cooperate in joint investigations of narcotics trafficking and money laundering, offering the possibility of sharing in forfeited assets. A parallel goal has been to encourage spending of these assets to improve narcotics-related law enforcement. The long term goal has been to encourage governments to improve asset forfeiture laws and procedures so they will be able to conduct investigations and prosecutions of narcotics trafficking and money laundering that includes asset forfeiture. To date, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Canada, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom have shared forfeited assets with the United States.

From 1989 through 2012, the international asset sharing program, administered by the Department of Justice, shared $246,745,918 with 42 foreign governments that cooperated and assisted in investigations. In 2012, the Department of Justice agreed to transfer $1,750,000 in forfeited proceeds to the Government of the Cayman Islands, and $1,646,237 in forfeited proceeds to the Government of Mexico. Prior recipients of shared assets include: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guernsey, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Jersey, Jordan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela.

From Fiscal Year (FY) 1994 through FY 2012, the international asset-sharing program administered by the Department of Treasury shared $34,916,198 with foreign governments that cooperated and assisted in successful forfeiture investigations. In FY 2012, the Department of Treasury transferred $2,052,555 to the Bailiwick of Jersey, $364,999 to Cayman Islands, $119,203 to Canada, $1,291,616 to Luxembourg and $609,802 to the United Kingdom. Prior recipients of shared assets include: Aruba, Australia, the Bahamas, Brazil, Cayman Islands, China, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Guernsey, Honduras, Isle of Man, Japan, Jersey, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Portugal, Qatar, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Switzerland.