The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) recently announced that it will be writing to a sample of 400 firms asking them to demonstrate how they are complying with the 2017 Money Laundering Regulations. Firms will have to respond by ensuring they have a money laundering risk assessment in place and that it has been implemented. Failure to comply with the regulations or a lack of engagement to correct issues will result in enforcement action.
Following concerns by government of the increasing risk of money laundering facilitated by the legal sector, the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision and Financial Action Task Force Mutual Evaluation have encouraged the SRA to actively strengthen its supervision of the sector. As a consequence the SRA has advised firms that they should be prepared for further rigorous checks.
A range of guidance and support materials have been produced to assist firms to comply with their obligations, but it has been made clear that non-compliance will be targeted. Over the past five years more than 60 cases of AML failings have been taken to disciplinary action by the SRA resulting in 40 solicitors being struck off, either voluntarily or through suspension.
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