Over 20% of lawyers in UK not complying with anti-money laundering law

By Christine Duhaime | November 1st, 2019

According to this article in the Financial Times, 20% of lawyers in the UK are not complying with federal anti-money laundering laws. Unlike the US and Canada, in the UK, lawyers are reporting entities and must conduct bank-level AML to onboard and report suspicious and other threshold financial transactions externally. The findings come amid concerns that professional money launderers (accountants, lawyers, hawalas and bank officials) are facilitating international money laundering wittingly or unwittingly.

A further report found that lawyers were responsible for reporting just 1% of suspicious transactions. As a consequence of that, a new regulator called the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision was launched to supervise the supervisory agency that supervises lawyers, to provide accountability for lawyers complying with anti-money laundering laws. The move also comes as a result of concern that the supervision of professional gatekeepers has not occurred.

The UK National Crime Agency estimates that lawyers trust accounts are attractive targets for criminals.

40 lawyers were struck from the list in the UK (meaning they cannot practice) in the last five years over money laundering.

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