Treaties and Agreements

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
March 7, 2012


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 & Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, 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 & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad & 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 supplement existing MLATs or create new mutual legal assistance relationships between the United States and every member of the EU. Mutual legal assistance agreements have been signed by the United States but not yet brought into force with the following countries: Algeria, Bermuda, and 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 a few executive agreements on forfeiture cooperation, including: an agreement with the United Kingdom providing for forfeiture assistance and asset sharing in narcotics cases; a forfeiture cooperation and asset sharing agreement with the Kingdom of the Netherlands; and a drug forfeiture agreement with Singapore. The United States has asset sharing agreements with Canada, the Cayman Islands (which was extended to Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands), Colombia, Ecuador, Jamaica, Mexico, and Monaco. 

Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has either a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or an exchange of letters in place with the financial intelligence units (FIUs) of many countries 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 Albania, Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Fiji, Guatemala, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Moldova, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, the Money Laundering Prevention Commission of Taiwan 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, 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 2011, the international asset sharing program, administered by the Department of Justice, shared $235,925,145 with 38 foreign governments that cooperated and assisted in investigations. In 2011, the Department of Justice agreed to transfer $2,602,211 in forfeited proceeds to the Government of the Swiss Confederation, and $276,950 in forfeited proceeds to the Government of the Bahamas. Prior recipients of shared assets include: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, the Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guernsey, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Isle of Man, Israel, 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 2011, the international asset-sharing program administered by the Department of Treasury shared $30,478,024 with foreign governments that cooperated and assisted in successful forfeiture investigations. In FY 2011, the Department of Treasury transferred $54,561 in forfeited proceeds to Canada, and $132,000 to the Philippines. 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, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Vietnam.