Expect no relaxation in AML regime, solicitors warned

The Law Gazette

9 November 2020

Firms can expect no respite from money laundering compliance monitoring, the head of the Law Society's money laundering task force warned today.

Firms can expect no respite from money laundering compliance monitoring, the head of the Law Society's money laundering task force warned today. 'If anything we need to be more alert during the pandemic,’ said Amasis Saba, head of business acceptance at international firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, citing dangers arising from email interceptions and 'man in the middle' fraud.

The Solicitors Regulaton Authority has accordingly geared up its risk assessment monitoring and will be continuing visits during lockdown, Saba said. He noted that the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS), which overseas the SRA and other regulators 'will expect things to continue'.

Saba was speaking ahead of the Law Society’s annual Money Laundering and Financial Crime Conference, which takes place next week - this year in the form of a two-part webinar.

The event will feature of a preview of long-awaited revised guidance from the Legal Sector Affinity Group, which includes the Law Society and other legal sector supervisors, taking in the Fifth Money Laundering Directive. The new guidance, which will be a 'step up in detail' is still awaiting Treasury approval but will be published 'soon', Saba said.

Another session will consider risk assessments, following the SRA's discovery of widespread non compliance in its 2019 risk review. Saba stressed the importance of being able to demonstrate why decisions were taken. 'It is all about demonstrable compliance,' he said.

He urged conference attendees to 'come with questions' - and preferably to submit them early.

The Anti-money Laundering and Financial Crime Conference 2020 will be presented as a two-part interactive webinar series set to go live on Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11 November.

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