Thousands of lawyers could be affected by a change to money-laundering rules, meaning that they are at a higher risk of committing money laundering offences. This is due to the recent removal of a clause from the Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) regime.

Under the current National Crime Agency (NCA) guidelines, anyone working in the “regulated sector” is now guilty of committing an offence if they do not submit an SAR to the NCA if they know, or suspect, or have reasonable grounds to know or suspect, that another individual is involved with money laundering.

The Law Society has argued that the guidance needs clarification and that the rules should be changed so that lawyers are only required to report their clients if they suspect them of having a clear intent to launder money. As a result of its position on the issue, the Law Society started a campaign for the re-inclusion of the clause at the beginning of April 2015.

In a letter to the Home Office, the Law Society said: “We believe the resources of the NCA are better focused on money laundering in action.

“The [suggested] changes would reduce the administrative burden around consent requests while still providing law enforcement with information that will be useful in the fight against money laundering.”

According to the NCA, there has been a significant increase in the number of SAR’s being filed over recent years and in 2013/14 over 350,000 SAR’s were raised. Money laundering is a significant issue for law firms, and a rigorous approach is needed to minimise the risks involved.

If you feel that you would benefit from a free, no obligation, chat on any of these subjects, please call us today for advice.

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About our Charities team

With Mark Sharpley, UK200Group specialist legal sector member, and fellow partners Steve Bramall and Luke Taylor at the helm of an experienced team of charity finance specialists, Smailes Goldie is well positioned to offer advice to the charity and not-for-profit sector.

We understand that charities are now facing a more challenging environment than ever before, so it is essential to have a team of accountants who understand the fast changing nature of this sector, which has more regulatory and compliance requirements than most.

If you feel that you need advice on any of the issues discussed in this e-bulletin, Smailes Goldie are here to help.

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