Action could be taken against law firms that fail to report clients subject to financial sanctions, the Treasury has confirmed.

The government this week announced ‘independent legal professionals’ would be captured by the European Union Financial Sanctions Regulations 2017.

Existing regulations already place an obligation on businesses to report to the Treasury if they are acting for anyone subject to financial sanctions, but enforcement action could only be taken against financial services firms.

The SRA has told solicitors they would now face action if they fail to report information that could undermine UK financial sanctions.

Crispin Passmore, SRA executive director, policy, said: ‘The new financial sanctions regulations mean legal firms are obliged to comply with the reporting regime. These regulations, and the approaching Financial Action Task Force inspection, are further reminders of the importance the UK and global community places on tackling terrorist financing.

‘Risks exist for every single solicitor and law firm whether conveyancing on the high street or handling global transactions, and each should be thinking about their responsibilities for tackling these issues.’

The other professions and businesses included in the regulations are auditors, casinos, dealers in precious metals or stones, estate agents, external accountants, tax advisors, and trust or company service providers.

Financial sanctions are restrictions put in place to achieve a specific foreign policy or national security objective. Examples may be asset freezes, restrictions on financial markets and services, or directions to cease all business with a specific person, group, sector or country.

Anti-money laundering and financial crime conference 2017: navigating the changes

Wednesday 22 November 2017

This year’s flagship Anti-money laundering and financial crime conference will ensure you are up-to-speed with the seismic changes brought about by the recent Money Laundering Regulations and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017. Government representatives, regulators, law enforcers and experts from the profession will provide the latest information, guidance and insight in this area.

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