Fined firm claim sector struggle with AML rules

After accepting a fine from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for breaches of anti-money laundering rules, a firm has come out and said a “significant proportion” of law firms had “struggled to achieve compliance” with the 2017 Money Laundering Regulations.

QualitySolicitors Brett Holt came to an agreement with the SRA to pay a £10,000 fine after breaches of the AML rules with regards to the firm’s training, approach to risk assessment and in a conveyancing transaction which produced £850 in fees.

The firm has been fined for:

  • Failing to conduct identity checks and holding address verification documents for clients involved in a conveyancing transaction in 2017
  • Failing to train staff on the law relating to money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • Not possessing a risk assessment as required by regulators between June 2017 and December 2018.

In mitigation, the firm quoted the SRA’s study of 400 firms’ anti-money laundering risk assessments conducted in 2019, which found 21% were not compliant, including 10% that weren’t able to produce a risk assessment at all.

The firm stated:

“It is therefore clear that this is an area where a significant proportion of the industry has struggled to achieve compliance.”

The SRA said:

“It was incumbent upon the firm, as a practice handling substantial sums of client money in the course of property transactions, to be alert to its obligations in respect of preventing money laundering.”

Please note: this article has appeared on Legal Futures.

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