The Solicitors Regulation Authority is ’chasing a number’ of law firms which have failed to disclose the safeguards they have implemented to combat money laundering, after the regulator ordered them to do so by letter last December.
A rolling monthly programme of anti-money laundering spot checks on firms will be undertaken this year, Colette Best, the SRA’s director of anti-money laundering, told the Law Society’s annual risk and compliance conference in London this morning. The spot checks will involve the regulator calling in a batch of firms’ anti-money laundering risk assessments, with additional details likely to be required concerning a firms’ AML procedures and controls.
Where the regulator does call on a firm, she said, it will interview the firms’ relevant compliance officers, the MRO and MLCO. Best stressed that the SRA is comfortable with the same person performing both roles.
Amasis Saba, chair of the Law Society’s AML taskforce, urged firms to consider the number of suspicious activity reports they have submitted over the last 18 months. Firms need a plan to explain to regulators where their numbers are low, or they risk not being considered to be taking their responsibilities seriously, he said.