What’s your favourite time of year? Mine is April, but not this year. Other are conspiring against me—the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the government, the Legal Services Board, the Legal Ombudsman, HM Treasury and even the European Commission.
The number of law firms suspected of involvement in money laundering trebled last year, with some solicitors mixed up with the Russian mafia as well as “inappropriate transactions” following the Arab Spring, the Solicitors Regulation Authority revealed yesterday.
Let’s not underestimate the pace of change in the legal regulatory landscape over the past couple of years. Developments have been unprecedented, relentless and, at times, frustrating. 2014 is set to be another busy year for compliance officers with yet more regulatory upheaval. And it all kicks off in January with a review of the compliance officer for finance and administration (COFA) role.
ETSOS the leading provider of searches to the Legal and Conveyancing sector has announced that it has agreed to supply the SmartSearch Electronic Anti-Money Laundering Verification services via the ETSOS platform. ETSOS users will now be able to gain immediate PASS/REFER results for clients without the need for traditional documents such as Passports and Driving licences. The SmartSearch reports will also assist firms in identifying Politically Exposed Persons and name matches on the HM Treasury Sanctions list, ensuring compliance with the Anti-Money laundering Regulations.
Client confidentiality could be undermined by proposed changes to the European money laundering directive, the Law Society has warned. The removal of simplified due diligence provisions for client accounts is among a number of proposals to which the society objects.
The government has changed its mind over scrapping more than two dozen money laundering offences that can penalise lawyers for minor rule breaches, but has emphasised that minor failures should not lead to prosecution.
18 solicitors sanctioned for money laundering breaches as Treasury warned over increased risks from ABSs
Eighteen solicitors were sanctioned by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal last year for breaches of anti-money laundering obligations, the Law Society has reported. It has also identified alternative business structures as among the increased risks of money laundering facing the profession.
Law firms need to be alert to increased risks of being targeted by fraudsters and money launderers during the London Olympics, the Law Society has warned. Issues include fake passports, sham disputes and visits by foreign politically exposed persons.
The European Commission sees no reason to accede to lawyers’ calls and reduce the burden of anti-money laundering rules on the legal profession, a new report has indicated. However, it will consider steps to improve under-reporting of suspicious transactions.
News round-up: HighStreetLawyer.com expands, firm recruits COLP, will-writer training boost, and much more
Our regular round-up of bits of news you may have missed include new locations for the HighStreetLawyer.com network, a firm recruiting its COLP, firms launching joint ventures and targeted services, professional training for will-writers, money laundering warning, and more.