SRA raises concern about firms’ approach to AML

Nov 8, 2019
Author: Simon Bladen
Simon is one of the firm's Audit Partners. Simon is responsible for looking after the firm’s legal, charitable and not-for-profit clients.
Anti money-laundering

The Solicitors Regulation Authority is going to be contacting thousands of firms in the coming weeks to ask them about the money laundering measures they have in place to combat the issue. The SRA will be conducting checks on 7,000 firms as there are fears that many firms are doing nothing to meet their obligations.

The SRA wrote to 400 firms in March to ask them to validate compliance with the 2017 regulation. Of these 400 firms 83 were found to be non-complicit. It was also found that 64% of firms were using a low-quality template and were taking a ‘copy and paste’ approach.

The SRA also found that around 135 risk assessments were dated recently which could suggest that they updated their risk assessment in response to the SRA request.

Paul Philip, SRA chief executive, said: ‘Money laundering supports criminal activity such as people trafficking, drug smuggling and terrorism. The damage money laundering does to society means that every solicitor must be fully committed to preventing it. The vast majority would never intend to get involved in criminal activities, but poor processes open the door to money launderers.

‘A call from us should not be the prompt for a firm to get their act together. You need to take immediate action now if you are not on top of your money laundering risks. Where we have serious concerns, we will take strong action.’

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