Record fine for law firm should act as a wake up call for AML compliance

Following law firm Mishcon de Reya being fined £232,500 for numerous AML failings, Martin Cheek, MD of SmartSearch said: Martin Cheek“To have a high-profile law firm like Mishcon de Reya receiving one of the largest fines the SRA has issued should act as a wake-up call for the legal sector.

“The firm accepted that inadequate training was provided to the partner responsible for AML compliance, and this clearly demonstrates the regulator will not accept ignorance as a defence.

“The fine also related to a lack of evidence of due diligence being carried out. The firm may have conducted the required checks, but wasn’t able to produce evidence that they had done so.

“This highlights the difficulties firms face when conducting the requisite AML compliance manually, and to avoid fines, firms should look to switch to an electronic verification system.

“An electronic verification platform will keep the requisite information on file, in a GDPR compliant manner, and this will ensure law firms can prove that they have carried out checks. It will also continually monitor the client in case they are added to a sanctions or politically exposed person list in the future.

“This case highlights that even a top law firm can fall foul of AML compliance rules if they are not putting in place the correct procedures. The best way to implement these is by partnering with a provider that can ensure compliance, and allow the firm to focus upon its professional services to clients.”