0203 911 9710

info@thestrategicpartner.co.uk

Latest News

SRA Fine London Firm £15k for AML Training Failures 
April 11, 2024

The Solicitors Regulation strikes again and sues yet another firm after discovering failures in standard anti-money laundering measures. Austen-Jones Solicitors, located in South east London, was fined £15,200 after it was discovered they did not make staff aware of AML requirements and failed to provide them with adequate training. It also transpired that the firm did not have the necessary AML documents in place to do conveyancing work.

The SRA confirmed the firm had begun conveyancing work as far back as 2017. In 2020, the regulator contacted the firm regarding a declaration about having a risk assessment in place. The firm apologised for not undertaking the risk assessment, but when the SRA initiated an inspection in November 2022, the supervision team found numerous AML compliance failures. A firm-wide assessment hadn’t been in place for close to six years.

The SRA said the firm’s conduct “persisted for longer than was reasonable” and was a breach of its regulatory and legislative obligations despite being given guidance and warning notices about the requirements, particularly when engaged in high-risk conveyancing work. Regardless, Austen-Jones Solicitors cooperated with the investigation to remedy the breaches. There was no evidence to suggest harm had occurred as a result of the breaches.

The regulator ruled that the firm should be fined 2.4% of its annual domestic turnover alongside an order to pay £1,350 in costs. Austen-Jones Solicitors is just one in a line of more than twenty firms fined since last October for failing to comply with money laundering regulations. Owing to their new fining powers of up to £25,000 and the new way of calculating fines as a percentage of turnover, these sanctions have shown a tendency to be more severe than the SRA have issued in the past. Read the full article here:

London firm fined £15k for failing to train staff in AML

Our Regulation and Compliance Services for Law Firms including training and AML

It is not uncommon for firms to be asked to demonstrate their understanding of the requirements of the regulations. It is also important to remember that you will be expected to evidence your compliance through the provision of relevant documents that will then need to be submitted. At The Strategic Partner, we work with and assist many firms in this enquiry process with unrivalled skill and efficiency. Attempting to do this in-house without sufficient understanding or resources can be challenging and time-consuming for supervisors, compliance officers, and the business as a whole; compliance with the AML regulations can often be an intricate process. Expert advice and guidance are essential to not only ensure your firm achieves a compliant status, but maintains it. This allows owners and staff to focus on running their firm in the knowledge that their AML requirements are being taken care of.

If you believe your firm may be at risk or wish to ensure your firm is achieving the required standard, we at The Strategic Partner can offer a range of solutions. We work with firms of all sizes and types, from partnerships to ABSs, high-street firms, and multinational firms. Each firm is different, and whilst there is a commonality of regulation and expected standards, it is essential to recognise how a firm implements compliance to tailor the solution to each firm’s working practices. Running a compliant law firm is not just about implementing policies and procedures. The obligations of the Compliance Officers go far beyond this, as there is an ongoing responsibility to manage, maintain and monitor the application of the firm’s compliance strategy.

We at the Strategic Partner will always be pleased to discuss your current approach to regulation and how our services can assist you in ensuring your firm is protected.

Enquiries

For more information about our Regulation and Compliance Services (including Anti-Money Laundering), you can call us on 0203 911 9710 or please email us at info@thestrategicpartner.co.uk.

View and download the PDF of this article here.

Related Articles