News release

SRA anti money laundering thematic review shows law firms are doing well

Law firms are generally well set to deal with the risks of money laundering, according to the latest in a series of our thematic reports on topical issues.

Our report follows visits to more than 250 firms - from sole practitioners to large firms - to look at what processes they had in place to guard against money laundering and whether staff were able to use these processes. It shows that in general firms have the right systems to manage money laundering risks and report suspicious activity.

It also found a healthy compliance culture embedded in firms. The report also shows that some firms could do more, and we identified both good and poor practice. Areas where there was room for improvement included ensuring training was properly embedded, having appropriate cover for the Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO), and making sure AML systems and controls are both tested and updated.

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: "Law firms are an attractive target for those wishing to launder money. We have done a great deal of work to raise the profile of this risk and promote best practice.

"Our analysis shows that the vast majority of the firms we visited take their responsibilities seriously and compliance is good. Our report is an opportunity to share best practice, as well as to flag where improvements could be made.

"But of course, this report is just a snapshot and the challenges are evolving, so there is no room for complacency. Firms need to remain vigilant and keep up to date. We will continue to work with all the relevant authorities to play our part in tackling money laundering and we will take firm action where we find issues."

We regularly report on thematic reviews into key areas. This report is part of our ongoing work to highlight money laundering as a priority risk, and to make sure firms are guarding effectively against it. In addition to featuring in the annual Risk Outlook and periodic updates and alerts to the profession, the work included an in-depth report into the issue, Cleaning up: Law firms and the risk of money laundering, at the end of 2014.

The anti money laundering report can be found here:

Go to the report

All our reports can be found here:

Go to the reports page