Ex-Mishcon partner accepts £17,500 fine for AML failures


AML: Partner did not receive mandatory training

The partner whose conduct contributed to the record £232,000 fine handed out to Mishcon de Reya has been fined £17,500 himself.

Michael Nouril, who left the firm in April 2020 and is not currently practising, accepted his punishment in a regulatory settlement agreement, which means he will not face a disciplinary tribunal.

The SRA actually fined him £25,000 but the amount was reduced by 30% to reflect mitigating factors.

The firm fine, announced in January, related to other incidents of money laundering failures as well.

Between September 2015 and April 2017, Mr Nouril carried out work for two individual clients and their corporate vehicles: asset planning for one of the individuals and the initial stages of the proposed acquisition of two separate entities (and the onward sale of one of them).

Only some of the customer due diligence documents were obtained in relation to one of the corporate vehicles.

Both proposed acquisitions presented a higher risk of money laundering or terrorist financing, because they involved companies in offshore jurisdictions, but the enhanced customer due diligence and ongoing monitoring required as a result was not done.

Further, one payment was made into and three payments were made out of Mishcon’s client account in July 2016 – exceeding £1.7m in aggregate – which did not relate to an underlying legal transaction, meaning the firm provided banking facilities in breach of the accounts rules.

Funds belonging to one corporate vehicle were incorrectly transferred to the client ledger for the other and used to discharge the firm’s fees and disbursements on that matter.

Finally, the solicitor did not send a bill of costs before two invoices were raised and paid out of the monies held in client account.

An external investigation commissioned by Mishcon found that Mr Nouril had not received mandatory training due to a personnel absence.

“Mr Nouril regrets his lack of understanding at the time and accepts those identified gaps in his knowledge were ultimately his responsibility to address,” the agreement said.

He admitted the multiple rule breaches involved and that he failed to maintain public trust, as well as not carrying out his role in the business effectively.

The SRA said the agreed outcome was “a proportionate outcome in the public interest because the issuing of such a sanction is necessary to maintain standards by highlighting the risks arising from the acts and omissions in question and deterring such repetition”.

At the same time, there was no evidence of lasting harm as a result of the misconduct, and there was “a low risk of repetition, particularly in light of the degree of insight and remorse shown and the application of himself to training in the relevant areas”.

He had also assisted the SRA with its investigation and made early admissions.

Mr Nouril will pay costs of £3,500.




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