UK Law Society Ensures Solicitors Complying With AML Measures

In response to allegations from the Treasury’s consultation on inadequate measures on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing, Law Society England and Wales claimed that the lawyers are upholding government regulatory authorities’ standards to prevent illicit financial activities.  

The treasury consultation threatened the government to regulate lawyers’ firms. It urged the attorneys to adequately comply with the AML regulations in order to protect the integrity of the country’s financial ecosystem. In response to these allegations, the UK’s Law Society England and Wales claimed all the professional solicitors comply with national standards CFT/AML solutions and uphold the beyond-the-limit requirements, which they are not subject to. Nick Emmerson, the Law Society of England and Wales president, stated, “The solicitors’ profession is fully committed to tackling illicit finance and money laundering. This is demonstrated by the significant resources allocated to complying with its AML and financial crime obligations.”

He also emphasized the vital role of customer and business verification for the government representative bodies, financial institutes and law enforcement. According to the Society’s President, the Law Society of England and Wales is committed to ensuring that solicitors remain vigilant and proactive in their fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. The Law Society will continue collaborating with the government representative bodies to ensure that solicitors meet their AML obligations. Emmerson stated, “The AML regime is highly complex, and it is vital for representative bodies, such as the Law Society, to be able to help draft and contribute to legal sector-wide guidance. We are concerned that legal sector-specific expertise could be lost in the current proposals, meaning the AML supervisory regime would be less, rather than more, effective in the short to medium term.”

Emmerson stated against the latest model proposed by the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) to strengthen the UK’s AML policies, “Giving OPBAS additional powers is unlikely to address the ongoing failings of the current supervisory regime, particularly around fragmentation and lack of consistency. There must be a greater focus on the overall effectiveness of the regime and outcomes rather than tick-box compliance, which satisfies overly prescriptive requirements.”

Furthermore, he also claimed that the reforms in the AML regulations would be effective but damage the sole law firms. The UK’s law societies, such as England and Wales Law Society, can comply with these rigid regulations because of the robust verification process, which is challenging for other independent attorneys. He asserted, “Reforming the supervisory regime will play an essential role in achieving an effective AML regime, but it will only go so far without addressing the broader regulations that underpin the regime. A significant proportion of the money-laundering regulations (MLRs) are relevant to the financial sector. Consequently, the MLRs are demanding and difficult to implement across the legal profession.”

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CFATF Successfully Concludes 4th Round Mutual Evaluation of Guyana

The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) visited Guyana on September 15th to supervise their compliance framework with the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regulations and methodologies. 

The CFATF successfully concluded its 4th visit to Guyana to analyze their compliance procedure with the rigid methods according to international regulatory authorities. Several financial institutes, government, law enforcement, and state agencies, including the private sector and professional organizations, participate in this assessment. The initial findings of the investigation were presented by the mission leader, Avelon Perry, and her team to the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, and the Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CTF), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), and National Coordination Committee (NCC). 

According to the initial high-level outcomes, Guyana has adequate coordination for the NCC to identify and reduce threats of money laundering as well as terrorist financing. From all reports, Guyana as a jurisdiction performed brilliantly and earned praise from regulatory bodies throughout the assessment. The CFATF group also acknowledged the risk assessment Guyana concluded, including the National risk assessment in 2021 and the various dissemination among the shareholders. They also attest to the coordination of National Policy and Strategy in these actions and determined that a number of policies were completed during these risk assessments, including the latest amendments in the AML/CFT regulations and the legislative creation of Guyana Compliance Commission and the Real Estate Authority. 

Some loopholes noted in the assessment are the need for Attorneys-at-law and Accountants to understand AML/CFT laws efficiently, which was passed by the Guyana compliance authorities. Furthermore, the investigation adds Guyana needs a unified approach to conclude money laundering cases because they have in-line cases, but delays in the administration of these cases, which may have contributed to Guyana’s low rate of money laundering.

The team noted that the recent 2023 amendments have addressed some technical issues with targeted financial sanctions for financing terrorism and proliferation but that given the laws’ recent passage, internal processes for their implementation may need to be modified. The assessment team also appreciated Guyana and informed that these findings will be changed after the final review, which will conclude in May or June, at the CFATF 2024 Plenary, carried out in Trinidad and Tobago. 

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