Law firms have responded positively to requirements to appoint executives to oversee anti-money laundering (AML) provisions, the regulator has reported as the profession waits to learn how much a controversial new quango will hit solicitors’ pockets.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority said today that 96% of firms have now appointed an anti-money laundering compliance officer (MLCO). The compliance officer is a board level position in addition to the money laundering reporting officer (MLRO), responsible for day to day monitoring.
The appointing of officers comes as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is due to announce the running costs of its proposed Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS).
OPBAS is being set up to oversee the adequacy of supervisory arrangements at 22 professional bodies, including the Law Society and Bar Council - both of which said the case for implementing the body has not been made.
MLCOs and MLROs will be seperate to OPBAS.
Each body that falls under OPBAS’s watch will be charged a fee to cover running costs. The FCA has estimated that this could be between £15 and £25 per regulated individual.
Michael Harris, director of financial crime and LexisNexis Risk Solutions, said: ‘There will be significant challenges for law firms in implementing the more robust anti-money laundering requirements. For example, carrying out a risk assessment on all new clients and legal matters will require well-trained lawyers supported by highly-skilled compliance staff, with access to comprehensive information in order to conduct robust due diligence’
The FCA, following a consultation which closed in Janurary is due to publish feedback and its requirements this month. The FCA has yet to respond to a request for comment on when that will be.