It is time for money laundering to be taken seriously, the head of the Law Society's Monitoring Unit told delegates.
Bob Butler said firms which conduct business within the terms of the Financial Services Act must comply with the Money Laundering Regulations 1993. These require that all staff involved in investment transaction must be provided with training on recognition of suspicious transactions. Firms must appoint a reporting officer and set up internal reporting procedures as well as systems to obtain evidence of clients' identities. Records also need to be maintained for five years.
Butler said: "Generally, monitoring from visits has revealed a poor level of understanding and awareness of the Financial Services Act, which applies to solicitors in all their work, and the regulations, which relate to firms conducting investment business."
He added that, in his experience, provided firms are competent to do the work, they shouldn't fall foul of the legislation. He said that firms should not be afraid of the regulation and compliance.