Money laundering

Keeping the profession free of money laundering is in everyone’s interest. It is a key way of disrupting serious crime - crime that funds everything from terrorists to people traffickers. It is not a victimless crime.

Money laundering is a priority risk for us. The credibility of law firms make them an obvious target for criminals. The overwhelming majority of solicitors want to do the right thing. Yet that alone is not enough. Weak processes or undertrained staff can leave the door open for criminals.

Money laundering information

Guidance and warnings

The legal sector has produced guidance on complying with your anti-money laundering obligations, and this guidance has been approved by Government: Anti-Money Laundering: Approved legal sector guidance (PDF 156 pages, 1.4MB).

We have produced guidance that incorporates the latest Government regulations, which were published in June.

We have developed a risk assessment for the legal sector.

We have issued warning notices on money laundering, reminding everyone in the profession of their obligations, including:

Suspicious Activity Reports

All solicitors need to understand what they need to do under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and Terrorism Act 2000.

If you have a suspicion that your firm is being used to launder money, your Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) must submit a SAR to the National Crime Agency (NCA). It’s important that everyone understands their responsibilities and their firm’s processes.

The NCA have concerns about the number and quality of SARs being submitted by law firms, and have produced guidance to help you, including:

We have also published a Warning notice: Money laundering and terrorist financing - suspicious activity reports.

Good practice and legal sector reviews

We carried out a thematic review of law firms to see if they are doing enough to prevent money laundering. This follows our 2018 thematic review of how firms are operating in light of the new Government regulations, identifying good and poor practices.

These documents add to previous, similar resources. Such as our 2016 report on money laundering in the profession (PDF 37 pages, 316KB).

Information on people within your firm

We need to hold information on those working in the profession that hold certain roles.

Definition of positions

This guidance is to assist firms when deciding who in their firm falls under the definitions of beneficial owner, manager and officer contained in The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (MLR).

While we want to assist you in interpreting the Government regulations, you will of course need to satisfy yourself on the legal position. The obligation to identify who are your beneficial owners, officers and managers is on you as a firm. If having read this guidance you are still unsure, you should consider obtaining specialist advice on your position.

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Who to contact

If you want advice about the questions, you can contact our Professional Ethics Guidance helpline.

If you need help with the form, call our Contact Centre.