Anti-Money Laundering Compliance for Law Firms and Estate Agents

  • 24/06/2014

ML Solutions 4 U

The Money Laundering Regulations 2007 apply to law firms and estate agents.  The Regulations place compulsory obligations on regulated organisations to have in place compliant systems and procedures to help prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

These include requirements for the appointment of a Money Laundering Reporting Officer, procedures for reporting suspicious circumstances, customer and transaction due diligence and the training of staff.

For the purpose of the Regulations law firms are supervised by the Law Society and estate agents by the Office of Fair Trading.  Both these supervisors have published guidance on how firms should comply with their anti-money laundering obligations. Failure to comply with the Regulations is a serious business and could amount to a criminal offence.  Despite this there are still many law firms and estate agents who are not taking their responsibilities seriously.  There is growing evidence that supervising bodies are beginning to come down hard on non-compliant firms so now is the right time for firms to re-visit their AML policies.

Regulation 21 states that firms “must take appropriate measures so that all relevant employees are (a) made aware of the law relating to money laundering and terrorist financing, and (b) regularly given training in how to recognise and deal with transactions and other activities which may be related to money laundering or terrorist financing.”

There is no doubt that training, within firms, plays a vital part in any AML policy.  Staff need to know what their statutory obligations are under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Terrorism Act 2000.  They need to understand in what circumstances they should report suspicious circumstances to their Money Laundering Reporting Officer and what the consequences are for failure to report.  Of equal importance they require training on a regular and on-going basis on how to recognise and deal with suspicious transactions. Sophisticated criminals are constantly changing their methodologies.  The Home Office estimates that serious organised crime in the UK alone generates approximately £20 billion pound a year.  Property acquisition continues to be a common method used by serious organised criminals to launder the proceeds of crime.  It is of particular important therefore that law firms and estate agents understand the extent of the money laundering risks to their businesses and the ever changing techniques being used.  Effective training is the key to protecting your firm and its employees from the undesirable consequences of becoming involved in money laundering or related activity.  The Law Society AML Practice Note specifies that law firms must provide training at regular and appropriate intervals and that training can take many forms including face to face seminars and completion of on line training sessions.  These requirements also apply to estate agents.

So how do firms go about effectively training their staff?  Well ML Solutions4U Limited (“MLS”) appears to have come up with a very modern and innovative solution.  MLS is a member of the Manchester Law Society’s Advantage Group and it is the recommended supplier of AML services to both the Manchester Law Society and the National Conveyancing Association.

MLS is about to launch its new Anti-Money laundering “app” which will help regulated firms to comply with their obligatory requirement to provide AML refresher training.

Licensed users will be able to access the training material from their I Pad, IPhone, Android or their desktop/laptop computer. The AML training material will be updated regularly and users will receive push notifications informing them that new articles and video content are available for viewing or reading.  The “app” will work alongside an intelligent training management platform that will allow firms to manage and organise their AML training programmes and produce valuable management reports to monitor user performance and demonstrate regulatory compliance.

Bill Jones the Chief Executive of ML Solutions commenting on the new “app” said:

“For some time now we have been providing formal AML on-line training to the legal and other professions. From talking to our existing customers it became apparent that there was a need to come up with a training solution that catered for the required on-going AML refresher training. Our aim was to provide a regularly updated product that could be accessed at any time from any modern viewing platform.  Lawyers and estate agents struggle to keep up to date with legal training and the new “app” will make life much easier for them and at the same time help firms to comply with their training obligations”

For more details contact Bill Jones at [email protected] or by phone on 0161 828 1937.