Leading City law firm Clyde & Co is to face the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) for alleged breaches of the Money Laundering Regulations.
It is the second time the firm has been before the SDT on such charges, after it was fined a then record sum in 2017, and the second major City firm to be referred to the SDT in just a fortnight.
Notices published yesterday by the Solicitors Regulation Authority said the SDT has certified that both Clyde & Co and former partner Edward Mills-Webb have cases to answer in relation “to matters arising from [their] handling of a number of matters on behalf of a client and companies used by the client involving failure to comply with anti-money laundering procedures and breach of in relation to a number of matters spanning a period of over four years”.
A spokeswoman for Clyde & Co said: “In early 2019 we suspended a partner, Ed Mills-Webb and referred him to the Solicitors Regulation Authority in relation to matters concerning the application of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 and the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.
“We assisted the SRA fully with its investigations and during that time Ed Mills-Webb resigned from the firm.
“We are aware that the SRA has decided to charge the firm as well as Ed Mills-Webb in relation to breaches of the Money Laundering Regulations and procedures relating to a client and companies used by the client.
“We hold ourselves to the highest professional and ethical standards and take responsibility for ensuring we meet them, and we are reviewing these charges. It would be inappropriate to comment further.”
We have approached Mr Mills-Webb for comment. He is now a consultant at City firm Preston Turnball, a firm set up in 2019 after a group of his fellow shipping partners left Clyde & Co.
The allegations against both him and Clyde & Co are as yet unproven.
In 2017, Clyde & Co was fined £50,000 and three partners £10,000 each for allowing its client account to be used as a banking facility and breaching anti-money laundering rules. The events dated back to 2013.
The tribunal said the failures were “particularly glaring” as it was “a large and, previously, reputable firm”.
Afterwards, the firm said it was “confident that the circumstances which led to these breaches could not happen again. We have since reviewed and strengthened a number of aspects of our approach to risk management”.
It is the second major firm to be referred to the SDT over alleged AML failures in a fortnight, following Dentons last month.