Why Lawyers and Conveyancers Need AML/CTF?
Lawyers and law firms act on behalf of their clients, and engage in advisory and legal services. As a registered legal or conveyancing firm, a certified legal practitioner or a conveyancing practitioner, you need to put anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CFT) measures in place if you engage in the following activities on behalf of a client:
- act as a formation agent, enter into legal arrangements or act on behalf of your client; or
- conduct Conveyancing transactions; or
- provide registered office or business address, or act as nominee director or trustee; or as intermediaries; or
- manage client funds, securities or other asset firms.
Legal activities are confidential in nature and may involve huge monetary transactions and activities on behalf of clients that conceal the purpose or the source of funds. As a professional enabler, the lawyer or legal firm provides legitimacy to such activities, thus allowing the proceeds of illicit money to be laundered. Criminals often engage lawyers to provide banking facilities or deceive conveyancers with incorrect information or documentation that exposes lawyers and conveyancers to risks of money laundering.
Legal and Conveyancing practitioners are obliged to report physical cash receipts or transactions above the regime’s prescribed amount, despite any confidentiality contracts or deemed a betrayal of client trust. AML compliance includes KYC, client due diligence, monitoring, record keeping, and reporting of unusual transactions, especially involving foreign currencies, tax evasions, transactions with virtual currency exchanges if illegal under the regime, transactions with sanctioned entities or countries, trading in prohibited goods, or activities that pose risks of ML/TF.
The ability to use the skills of legal professionals for manipulating transactions and concealing any illicit activity or financial crime, allows clients to evade taxes and regulations. This exposes the legal fraternity and legal firms to ML/TF by being facilitators or acting on behalf of their client. Confidentiality contracts, the fear of losing business, advocacy before courts and tribunals, or representing clients in disputes, are the biggest gaps in compliance in the legal sector.
Lawyers, Conveyancers and legal firms are expected to build the framework for a risk-based compliance program:
- Conduct a risk-based assessment for exposure by type of client, the nature of activities executed on behalf of the client, country in which the client operates, and client relationships.
- Create risk reduction measures and controls to lessen risk.
- Develop an AML/CTF program: client identification, beneficial ownership or third-party business relationship, Sanctions/SDN/PEP screening.
- Develop an AML/CTF program: client identification, review of beneficial ownership, ongoing monitoring and reporting; as per the laws.
- Implement the risk-based approach to ongoing monitoring of customer, transactions and business relationships. This includes de-risking business relationships to manage business reputation.
Set up and maintain your compliance program, as per the laws of your regime. Non-compliance may result in criminal or administrative monetary penalties.
Ongoing compliance involves:
- Vetting when employing staff, training staff about the risks involved and keeping them up-to-date with AML/CTF rules, and nominating an ethics officer.
- Conducting enhanced due diligence (EDD) when there is evidence of suspicious behaviour or tax evasion.
- Ongoing transaction monitoring for suspicious activities, international operations, or deals with sanctioned individuals or countries.
- Capturing customer data across every touchpoint and maintaining the records.
- Reporting obligations, as mandated.
- Reviewing your risk assessments and compliance programme periodically with independent audits.
Our PEP and sanction screening service will help you reach your compliance requirements.
Our details scan reports provide you with an overview of in-depth information on potential risks to your organisation.
We provide access to multiple data sources to meet the varying requirements of users.
We update the information for all of our data sources daily to provide you with up-to-date relevant data.
Save the time manually checking names by using our batch scanning feature to scan bulk files of names simultaneously
Our service is straight-forward and easy use, making compliance easy by simplifying processes.
Perform due diligence by assigning risk, determining true matches and recording decisions in the NameScan dashboard.
Conduct further research into potential matches and risks to your organisation through various sources.
Use our API to integrate with your existing systems to automate the screening process.
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