The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has continued to flex its new fining powers by issuing a £5,000 penalty against a law firm for six years of anti-money laundering failures.
North Yorkshire firm Goad & Butcher has also had conditions imposed on its authorisation after previous efforts to bring it into compliance failed.
The SRA said the firm, based in Settle, had since June 2017 failed to have in place a documented and compliant firm-wide risk assessment or compliant policies, controls and procedures (PCPs), contrary to the 2017 Money Laundering Regulations.
This was aggravated by the fact that the firm had not complied with the terms of a compliance plan agreed with the SRA back in June 2021.
The SRA said the firm’s conduct was “a wilful breach of its regulatory obligations which has persisted for more than five years” and had the potential “to cause significant harm to the public interest and to public confidence in the legal profession”.
Conditions on Goad & Butcher’s authorisation were necessary to monitor its compliance with the 2017 regulations.
“The long-standing and persistent nature of Goad & Butcher’s failure to comply with the MLRs 2017 indicated that its breaches related to systemic issues within the firm,” the SRA said.
“Its conduct is likely to be repeated in the absence of conditions. This is demonstrated by its failure to ensure compliance since 26 June 2017 despite the engagement and support provided by the SRA to assist it to comply.”
The conditions require the firm to produce a revised and compliant firm-wide risk assessment and update its anti-money laundering PCPs, and provide them to the SRA within a month.