The Treasury Department is moving ahead with a plan to issue an anti-money laundering rule for investment advisors in the first quarter of 2024, the agency said.

“Treasury is working to address the risks associated with investment advisers,” the agency said in a press release last week.

The department said it is re-examining its attempted 2015 rule proposal and intends in the first quarter of 2024 to issue an updated proposal that would apply its "anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism" (AML/CFT) regime to certain investment advisors.  

“Investment advisers are not subject to consistent or comprehensive AML/CFT obligations in the United States, creating the risk that corrupt officials and other illicit actors may invest ill-gotten gains in the U.S. financial system through hedge funds, private equity firms and other investment services,” the agency said.

The release further detailed how the proposal would address the RIA community, which currently has no AML rules.

The Investment Adviser Association has had several meetings with Treasury officials to help educate them that investment advisers present low AML risks and is closely monitoring developments affecting advisers,” IAA spokeswoman Meredith Wise said.

In 2015, Treasury proposed a rule that would have applied AML rules to hedge funds, private equity managers and certain other advisors, which currently do not have to disclose the names of beneficial owners, but lobbying efforts by those industries helped to derail the rulemaking.

Treasury noted in 2015 that it is “possible for money launderers to evade scrutiny more effectively by operating through investment advisors rather than through broker-dealers or banks directly.”

The agency also focused on the vulnerability of the RIA sector In February 2022, in its “US National Money Laundering Risk Assessment,” which stated, “The use of third-party custodians by RIAs ... and the use of third-party custodians, when combined with the practice of pooling customer funds into omnibus accounts for trading and investment, can impede transparency, which is core to AML/CFT effectiveness."

Examples include when “an advisor orders a broker-dealer to execute a trade on behalf of an advisor’s client, the broker-dealer may not know the identity of the client. When a custodial bank holds assets for a private fund managed by an advisor, the custodial bank may not know the identities of the investors in the fund.” the department said.