The SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) believes that two–thirds of its regulated firms need to comply with the latest regulations. Earlier this year, the SRA wrote to 400 law firms, reminding them of their obligations in relation to money laundering controls within their conveyancing practices. There are concerns that many firms are failing to live up to their Anti-Money Laundering (AML) responsibilities. More than 40 solicitors have already been struck off or have voluntarily left the roll amidst suspicions of money laundering. Be under no illusion - non-compliant firms are set to face significant penalties and sanctions for non-compliance in the future.
Why is Conveyancing attractive to money launderers?
Conveyancing is particularly attractive to money launderers because of the large sums of money involved in each transaction and the legal market is an attractive target for those wishing to launder the proceeds of crime. Criminals instruct legal professionals to give legitimacy to holding or transferring money.
Solicitors and law firms are at an increased risk because they:
Regularly hold large sums of money in pooled client accounts;
Advise and transfer money relating to property and financial transactions;
Have access to financial markets and can facilitate buying large assets.