The Law Society Gazette have published an article indicating that lawyers are shocked about the publication of an inter-governmental report which suggests complicity in money laundering and terrorist financing is “rife in the legal sector”.
The report, Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Vulnerabilities of Legal Professionals, which was published last month by a body called the Financial Action Task Force, offers up more than 100 scenarios in which legal services are exposed to a greater risk.
We are all aware that there are “rotten apples” within the profession but for the most part Solicitors comply with the law, though the report states that “not all professionals carry out proper due diligence”.
According to the report a criminal will seek out a Solicitor to assist in their activities because of the requirement that legal professionals complete certain transactions. The report finds that a number of money laundering or terrorism financing methods pose inherent risks to the legal profession and, in these areas even a law abiding Solicitor could be vulnerable.
The Gazette report that, in a letter to the taskforce last month, Evangelos Tsouroulis, president of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, criticised the report as being based on ‘hypotheses’. The result ‘lacks interest and has no pedagogical purpose,’ he said.
Are members of the legal profession shocked? It could be argued that they shouldn’t be. Anti-Money Laundering training delivered by firms should ensure that Solicitors and Conveyancers are aware of the risks they face on a daily basis.