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AML crackdown: SRA reveals more fines
21 March 2024

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has continued its ramped-up crackdown on non-compliance with money laundering rules, with details of more fines published in the last week.

The regulator this week stated that Derby firm Beighton Singh Limited (trading as Beightons Solicitors) had been fined £19,482 for failing to have the right documents to prevent money laundering.

A desk-based review of the firm’s AML compliance had found various areas of concern around the risk assessment and policies, controls and procedures.

After investigators were called in, the firm was given compliance guidance and then implemented a new assessment and policies by October 2022. But the SRA said these were still not compliant until they were changed again in November 2023.

The firm was found to have failed to ensure it was compliant for more than six years in total. The SRA said this breach of AML rules persisted for longer than was reasonable and for a ‘significant’ period of time.

Beightons was ordered to pay 2.4% of its annual turnover, with mitigation considered based on the firm’s co-operation with the SRA, remedy of the breaches and the fact there was no evidence of actual harm.

Woking firm TP Legal Ltd was fined £12,181 for failing to have in place a compliant risk assessment of AML policies for almost six years until May 2023.

The SRA said the risk of failing to comply with AML regulations was heightened by the significant proportion of in-scope conveyancing work undertaken by the firm.

Again, the fine was set at 2.4% of turnover based on the firm’s co-operation, remedy of the breaches and no evidence of actual harm.

Even before the last week, the SRA had ramped up the frequency and level of fines to firms who did not ensure compliance with money-laundering regulations. From the beginning of October to the start of March, the regulator issued or agreed 19 fines for this misconduct, of which 10 had been for at least £10,000. All fines are paid to the Treasury rather than the SRA.

Source: The Law Society Gazette, 20th March 2024

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