Both the SRA and the National Crime Agency have launched crack downs on money laundering in law firms.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said “Our work will focus initially on those firms deemed at highest risk, but all firms need to be aware of the issue. There will be serious consequences for those who fail to take their obligations seriously.”
“Law firms often handle large sums of money, and this means they attract those who seek to launder the proceeds of crime. We want to ensure that all firms, no matter how large or small, have the systems in place to guard against money laundering and that they are compliant with the current regulations and legislation.
“We will also be testing the systems used within firms to report money laundering, and how widely these systems are known within each firm. We also want to ensure solicitors are meeting their legal obligations to report suspicious transactions to the appropriate authorities. The SRA will be taking a robust stance on anti money laundering compliance and will deal promptly with any firm that that transgresses the rules.”
This follows comments last week from Donald Toon, director of economic command at the NCA, who said law firms in London in particular would be investigated as part of an operation against money laundering and other forms of economic crime by “large-scale” criminal organisations.