News

Money laundering - new regulations

Keeping the profession free of money laundering is in everyone's interest.

It means that we can disrupt serious crime – crime that funds everything from terrorists to people traffickers. And if we are to continue to succeed as a leading international legal sector it is essential that we maintain trust in the profession. 

You all play your part and we know the majority of solicitors want to do the right thing, but none of us can afford to be complacent.

New regulations and guidance

The Government thinks that more can be done and in June introduced new regulations. We have reported on this previously in SRA Update, including how the Legal Sector Affinity Group has produced draft guidance, which is still in need of approval from HM Treasury.

The new regulations put new obligations on us as a regulator and you in the profession.

Collecting updated information

The new money laundering regulations place new requirements on supervisors to hold information about those they supervise. So although we already hold information about you, we will still need to ask you for some details to gather information about which firms offer services that fall within the scope of the money laundering regulations.

We will do this through a questionnaire that will be sent out in due course. The money-laundering regulations require us to collect this information, so completing this questionnaire will be mandatory.

We will be in touch soon with further details on the questionnaire and how to complete it.

Money laundering is a priority risk

We will treat any money laundering issues seriously and it remains a priority in our risk planning. Our work was picked up by the Home Office’s second National Risk Assessment on money laundering, published earlier in the month.

We recognised that multiple firms are often used by launderers to mask their work, while the creation of trusts and companies was a major concern. These points are raised in the assessment. It also identifies that, because you are involved in the greatest spread of client account services, the profession is at greatest risk of criminal infiltration

We will review the National Risk Assessment and will be publishing our own sectoral risk assessment, as required by the money laundering regulations, shortly.

Other money laundering issues

The National Crime Agency meanwhile has issued guidance for Money Laundering Reporting Officers when seeking consent – now referred to as a defence – if submitting a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR).

The guidance is available here:

Go to the NCA guidance