An Overview of Mev Dzihic’s Presentation at the Access Point Legal Innovators Forum
At the Access Point Legal Innovators Forum held this morning, Mev Dzihic, Director at Verify 365, a sponsor of the event, delved into the critical topic of money laundering exploring if law firms should be scared of money laundering. With a wealth of experience and expertise, Mev shared his insights on this pervasive issue, providing a comprehensive understanding of its complexities and implications, from a regulatory landscape and also a wider issue on humanity.
Unmasking the Monster: What is Money Laundering?
Mev began by shedding light on the enigmatic world of money laundering. He emphasised that it’s not just a term used in financial thrillers but a real-world problem affecting us all. Money laundering involves the process of disguising unlawfully obtained proceeds, making them appear legal. It often entails a convoluted web of financial transfers or commercial transactions, a scheme employed even by major financial institutions. He gave real life examples of the biggest financial institutions failing to address the activity on a basic level, resulting in the legitimising of millions of pounds.
The Human Cost of Money Laundering
One of the most poignant aspects Mev discussed was the human toll of money laundering. Beyond financial implications, it fuels a vicious cycle of grave crimes, including child trafficking, drug trafficking, arms dealing, and forced labor. He emphasised that money laundering is not a mere regulatory checkbox but a global issue with profound real-life consequences. The money laundered fuels a cycle of serious crime and a cost of lives at a massive scale.
The Staggering Scale: How Much is Laundered?
Mev highlighted the sheer magnitude of money laundering, citing data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which estimates an astonishing $1.6 trillion laundered annually.
Law Firms in the Crosshairs
Moving on to the legal sector’s role, Mev underscored that law firms are not immune to this threat. In fact, they are considered significant risks to the UK’s legitimate economy and reputation, as identified by the National Crime Agency (NCA). Criminals exploit law firms to legitimise their ill-gotten gains, often under tight deadlines and pressures. Law firms are often under pressure to complete matters in tight deadlines and this results in poor compliance but Mev stressed this is not good enough. The consequences of poor anti money laundering policies and checks can be devastating for law firms of all sizes, with increased fining powers by regulators being evidenced in recent cases.
The Path to Prevention: Collaboration and Technology
To counter this menace, Mev stressed the importance of collaboration and technology. He advocated for robust policies, controls, and procedures within law firms to mitigate risk effectively. Comprehensive training covering Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR), money laundering awareness, and the use of electronic AML systems like Verify 365 is essential. Technology, including tools for identifying fake passports and ensuring compliance with regulations like PEPs (Politically Exposed Persons) and sanctions screening, plays a pivotal role.
He went on to explain that Verify 365 is at the forefront of cutting-edge technology, offering comprehensive identity verification and compliance solutions. Our platform leverages biometric checks, bank account verification, mobile intelligence, and online document verification to ensure secure onboarding and fraud prevention. We cover an array of critical checks, including PEPs, sanctions, adverse media screening, and Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) discovery.
With seamless integration options, we empower businesses to customise their risk-based approach, streamlining KYC and AML processes while ensuring compliance with the highest industry standards. Verify 365 provides the tools needed to confidently onboard trustworthy clients while safeguarding against fraudulent activity.
A Call to Action
In closing, Mev’s presentation emphasised the need for collective action against money laundering. Law firms must take proactive steps, ensuring the right policies, training, and technology are in place. By adopting a collaborative approach, the legal industry can stand strong in the fight against money laundering, protecting both the legitimate economy and countless individuals affected by this far-reaching crime.