Increasingly professionals working in the legal and property sectors are being targeted by criminals to clean their ‘dirty money’, to make unlawful money seem legitimate. Meaning professionals in the legal sector have a growing duty to report suspicious activity.
Impact of money laundering
The Home Office Media Economic Crime Factsheet dated 2017 states that the scale of money laundering impacting the UK is likely in the region of £90 billion a year.
Money laundering is not only a crime within itself, it is also a facilitator for other serious crimes such as drugs trafficking, fraud, terrorism, robbery, bribery and corruption.
The consequences of involvement in money laundering activities are severe, even if the professional or their respective firm are not aware of the illegal activities surrounding money that they are dealing with in a transaction. The repercussions include but are not limited to losing your license, paying a fine or even facing criminal prosecution.
A key Principal under the SRA Code of Conduct 2019 is ‘integrity’, this is paramount to your role as an administrator of justice and maintaining the trust of the public. One of the most valuable assets to a legal service institution is the reputation of integrity. Money laundering can have devastating consequences on a professional or a law firm’s integrity, once an allegation of money laundering is found to be true, it is very difficult to re-establish the key principal of integrity.
If you are suspicious, act now!
You are legally obliged under the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 to submit a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) to the National Crime Agency, if you suspect a money laundering activity is taking place. A thorough SAR can alert law enforcement to potential instances of money laundering by providing information and intelligence that can assist in providing crucial intelligence for law enforcement. Investigations are often based on multiple SARs and your report could be key.
If you need any help with this or any aspect of commercial law, get in touch now.
By Zara Mahmood