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Learning from a Recent Case: AML Breach by Leading City Law Firm
August 11, 2023

 1. Introduction

A leading firm is to face the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) as a result of allegations of breaching money laundering regulations.

 2. Clyde & Co. at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal

It is the second time that leading city firm, Clyde & Co. has been called to the SDT.

Revealed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority on the 9th August 2023, the SDT has certified that both former partner of the firm Edward Mills-Webb and Clyde & Co. have cases to answer in relation “to matters arising from [their] handling of a number of matters on behalf of a client and companies used by the client involving failure to comply with anti-money laundering procedures and breach of in relation to a number of matters spanning a period of over four years”.

According to a Clyde & Co. spokeswoman, Mills-Webb was suspended from his position in 2019 for matters in relation to SRA Code of Conduct 2011 and SRA Account Rules 2011. During the SRA’s subsequent investigation, Mills-Webb resigned from his role. As a result of the SRA investigation, both Mills-Webb and Clyde & Co. have been referred to the SDT for breaches of Money Laundering Regulations and procedures relating to a client and companies used by the client. The spokeswoman continued, “we hold ourselves to the highest professional and ethical standards and take responsibility for ensuring we meet them, and we are reviewing these charges.”

 3. The Second Clyde & Co. Case

In a separate case in 2017, the firm was fined a then record sum of £50,000, and three partners £10,000 each for allowing a client account to be used as a banking facility as well as breaching anti-money laundering regulation.

Following this tribunal, the firm said it was “confident that the circumstances which led to these breaches could not happen again. We have since reviewed and strengthened a number of aspects of our approach to risk management”.

The tribunal highlighted the failures as “particularly glaring” since it was a “large and, previously, reputable firm”.

Read the case in full here.

 4. Guidance for Law Firms

As it stands, the allegations against both Edward Mills-Webb and Clyde & Co. are unproven. However, this case does not fail to highlight the importance of complying with money laundering regulations to ensure that not only the staff, but the firm as a whole is protected.

At The Strategic Partner, we work with firms, their MLROs and MLCOs, as well as their COLPs and COFAs, to provide tailored training and outsourced support solutions. Our objective is to help these firms effectively manage risk, compliance and regulation. By establishing and maintaining a compliant structure, our aim is to enable to firms, their managers, and owners to concentrate on operating their businesses and delivering exceptional service to their clients.

If you believe your firm may be at risk or wish to confirm your firm is achieving the required standard, we offer a range of compliance solutions at The Strategic Partner, including:

  • Risk Assessment Service and Independent AML Audit– A review of the firm’s approach to regulation and compliance to include all regulatory requirements and AML procedures. The output of this provides the firm with a written gap analysis and solutions to remedy any issues.
  • Regulation 21 AML 2017 Independent Audit – A review of the firm’s approach to regulation and compliance to include AML procedures with the audit meeting the requirements of Regulation 21 of the AML 2017. The output of which provides the firm with a written gap analysis and solutions to remedy any issues that arise and ensure the firm is compliant.
  • Training – Our Typical AML Training Includes

– AML Training for ALL staff to meet the firm’s obligation to provide annual training.

– 1-2-1 training for the MLRO and MLCO on their obligations and requirements.

  • Auditing – Procedural staff, systems, and files to ensure the procedures are up to the required standard and being implemented at case level with a report of the outcome.
  • Packaged Solutions – Implementation of robust solutions to ensure the firm achieves compliance and then maintains compliance through the provision of ongoing support and assistance:

Risk, Regulation and Compliance Service (including AML)

Risk, Compliance, AML Guidance and Register Administration Service

 5. Get in touch with The Strategic Partner

For more information on The Strategic Partner and to discuss how we may be able to assist in accelerating your risk management or compliance and regulation or simply to keep this up to date you can call us on 020 3911 9710 or email us info@thestrategicpartner.co.uk.

You can view and download the PDF version of this article here.

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