AML sting in Fla. shines light on lawyer


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Michael Sallah’s multi-part money-laundering series in the Miami Herald has made for riveting reading. Sallah last week turned his attention to the one of the lawyers who was the recipient of the laundered money that flowed through the controversial Bal Harbour—Glades County sting operation.

In the latest story in a series of features that gets curiouser and curiouser, Sallah details how former money-laundering prosecutor Robert Feitel is now a Florida defense lawyer with various cartel-related clients.

Feitel had previously gained fame in Florida for his hard-charging investigations of defense lawyers who represented accused drug traffickers and who allegedly were paid for their legal services with illicit drug money—a transaction that Feitel at the time asserted amounted to money laundering.

Now, years later and on the other side of the courtroom as a defense attorney for alleged drug dealers, Feitel is experiencing the glare of the money-laundering spotlight. Reporter Michael Sallah got interested in Feitel when it was revealed that undercover officers in the Bal Harbour-Glades County sting operation followed through on traffickers’ instructions to send over $100,000 in drug profits picked up in New York to Feitel’s Florida office.

Attorneys representing accused drug traffickers have gained some protection from prosecution in similar matters, but defense attorneys still have an obligation not to accept money that they should suspect comes from illegal activities. For instance, a lawyer representing an accused drug trafficker might reasonably be paid by that accused trafficker himself. However, that same lawyer should be suspicious of payments submitted by people entirely unknown to that lawyer.

In this case, Feitel appears to have accepted tens and tens of thousands of dollars from the undercover sting officers who were posing as money launderers for drug traffickers. Feitel so far has declined to comment on the record about why he would accept multiple large wire transfers from people he was not representing.

To learn more about the details of the recent Feitel transactions that have raised questions and his past efforts to prosecute defense lawyers for receiving fee payments that may have been proceeds from illegal activity, read the complete coverage in the Miami Herald. Sallah’s reporting in this series has been both in-depth and compelling, and it drives home the complexity of Compliance work and the energy and motivations of those continuously striving to circumvent BSA/AML regulations.

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