December 15, 2023 – The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has recently reinforced its commitment to enforcing anti-money laundering (AML) regulations by imposing fines on two law firms. Oxfordshire-based Angel Wilkins and Bolton’s Oakmount Law Solicitors faced financial penalties for failing to comply with the required standards.

The SRA emphasises the critical importance of compliance with the Money Laundering Regulations (MLRs) 2017. The Authority has underlined that legal firms bear a significant responsibility to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. In the year leading up to April 5, 2023, the SRA has taken action against 47 firms and individuals, showcasing its proactive approach in this area.

In both cases, the SRA noted that there was no evidence of harm to consumers or third parties, nor any financial gain derived from the misconduct. The firms have shown cooperation throughout the investigation process and have taken necessary steps to address and rectify the compliance issues. The SRA acknowledges the low risk of repeat offenses in both instances.

Firm-Specific Findings and Penalties:

Angel Wilkins:

This firm was fined £7,900 following a desk-based review which revealed a lack of compliant risk assessment for over five years. The firm’s risk assessment failed to address five key areas essential for AML compliance. Despite rectifying the issue with an updated document in June, earlier lapses led to the fine.

Oakmount Law Solicitors

Received a fine of £3,120 after admitting to the use of a general risk assessment instead of a tailored AML assessment specific to the firm. The firm’s policies and procedures were also deemed insufficiently detailed.

This action is part of the SRA’s ongoing efforts to ensure that legal practices in the UK adhere strictly to AML regulations. The fines serve as a reminder of the SRA’s dedication to upholding legal and ethical standards within the legal sector. Verify 365’s AML and client onboarding solutions offer a comprehensive approach to client verification, significantly aiding law firms in meeting the stringent requirements set by the SRA. Our platform ensures thorough checks and balances, seamlessly integrating into law firms’ existing processes to provide a robust framework for compliance.

“The recent SRA fines are a stark reminder of the importance of having robust systems in place.Our aim at Verify 365 is to empower law firms with the tools they need to navigate the complex landscape of AML regulations confidently. Our solutions are designed not just to comply with regulations but to set a new standard in client verification and risk assessment. We believe in a proactive approach, where compliance is seamlessly integrated into the everyday workflow of legal professionals,” said Rudi Kesic, CEO of Verify 365.

Verify 365 is a leading provider of AML and client onboarding solutions, dedicated to helping legal firms enhance their compliance processes and safeguard against risks associated with money laundering and terrorist financing.

Key Features of Verify 365’s Solutions:

– Tailored Risk Assessments: Customisable to the specific needs of each law firm, ensuring a comprehensive approach to AML compliance.
– Detailed Client Verification: Advanced technology for verifying clients and companies, mitigating risks associated with money laundering and terrorist financing.
– Compliance with SRA AML Rules: Designed to align with the SRA’s stringent standards, our solutions help law firms maintain the highest levels of compliance

For more information on how Verify 365 can assist your firm in achieving and maintaining compliance with AML regulations, please visit our website or contact us directly.