A recent review conducted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) found that, in the SRA’s views, a significant amount of law firms are not doing enough to prevent money laundering.
The review of 59 practices did not highlight any evidence of actual money laundering or any intention of money laundering. However, the concern is that the review found breaches of the 2017 Money Laundering Regulations as well as poor training and process control
The first area of concern that the review presented were issues around customer due diligence. The SRA found that almost a quarter (14) of the firms had inadequate processes to manage the risk around Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs).
However, the review showed that the largest concern was over a third (24) of the firm’s reviewed did not have a risk assessment that meets the requirements of the legislation, with four of the firms not having a risk assessment at all.
The review resulted in the SRA putting 26 out of the 59 firms into its disciplinary process and have started a wider review of 400 other firms. This wider review will be led by the new anti-money laundering unit that has been set up to strengthen resources to find and prevent money laundering.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: “Money laundering damages society, supporting terrorists, drug dealers and people traffickers. The stakes are too high for solicitors to be anything but fully committed to preventing money laundering and the crime it supports. Most solicitors take their responsibilities seriously, but too many firms are falling short. Those firms should be on notice that compliance is not optional. They need to improve swiftly. Where we have serious concerns that a firm could be enabling money laundering, we will take strong action.”
Read the full review here: https://www.sra.org.uk/sra/how-we-work/reports/aml-thematic-review.page
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