The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has issued a fine of £4,000 against a firm that has failed to have a money laundering risk assessment in place for more than four years, according to The Law Society Gazette.
The firm, Chepstow-based Bevan-Evans & Capehorn Solicitors LLP have been fined after investigators found the practice “failed to have a documented and complaint firm-wide risk assessment in place from June 2017 to October 2021” – failing to have “sufficient regard” for the SRA’s warning notice in 2019.
Recent news suggested that the chief executive of the SRA stated that the demands placed on the law firms to stop money laundering will not ease up.
To avoid money laundering, businesses are already required to conduct risk assessments, with a significant number of firms having received fines in the previous year for performing them improperly. The SRA has also bought legal action against companies who falsely claimed to have a compliance risk assessment.
The SRA said that the firm failed to have in place up-to-date anti-money laundering policies, controls and procedures to mitigate and managed the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing – saying that the firm was responsible for its own conduct which was “series and had the potential to cause harm to the publish interest and to public confidence in the legal profession”.
What’s more, HM Revenue & Customs also fined dozens of estate agencies recently for failing to comply with anti-money laundering regulations.
HMRC recently published a list of the 240 entities that make up a total of £3.2 million in fines handed out between 1st July and 31st December 2022 by HMRC for breaching Money Laundering Regulations.
New powers introduced last year increased the maximum fine that could be issued from £2,000 to £25,000 and the SRA has made use of that as the record fine for AML breaches was for £20,000 against an Oxfordshire firm in January.