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SRA publishes Anti Money Laundering annual report 2021-22
28 October 2022

The SRA has this week published its second annual professional supervisor report (as required by the Money Laundering Regulations and guidance by the Office for Professional Body Anti-money laundering Supervision (OPBAS) and HM Treasury). It sets out the regulator’s work over the last 12 months including action taken against those firms that failed to take their obligations seriously.

Introducing the report, chair Anna Bradley says the SRA ‘significantly increased’ its resources dedicated to preventing and detecting money laundering last year.

‘These additional resources have allowed us to step up our supervision in this area to directly engage with more firms through 163 inspections and 109 desk-based reviews,’ she said. ‘From the inspections and reviews, we brought 140 from partial into full compliance, and we also made 20 suspicious activity reports to the NCA reporting on £149m of potentially criminal funds and achieved 51 enforcement outcomes.’

The report states that ways in which SRA-regulated firms and solicitors become involved with money laundering, either knowingly or unknowingly include conveyancing, setting up shell companies or trusts and misusing client accounts to ‘clean’ proceeds of crime.

Over the course of the year the regulator imposed fines totalling £286,976 and took eight prosecutions to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Five of these resulted in a fine and three a suspension. Fines imposed by the SDT averaged £18,500 each, nearly double the average imposed by the SRA which until this year was restricted to £2,000 for conventional firms and individuals. 

On firms’ own risk assessments and policies, the report notes that 58% of the policies reviewed needed improving. Among other failings, 26% of policies reviewed failed to mention what steps a fee earner should take to ensure their client is not subject to financial sanctions.

Click here to read the full report.

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