Home Estate Planning Legal regulator contacts more than 1,000 law firms over poor sanctions compliance

Legal regulator contacts more than 1,000 law firms over poor sanctions compliance

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The UK’s legal regulator has contacted more than 1,000 law firms that it deemed to have poor sanctions compliance systems in place.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) gathered data from a number of law firms last year on their approach to financial sanctions via a questionnaire. From this, the regulator identified a large number of firms that indicated they had poor controls in place.

As a result, the SRA said today it has written to more than 1,000 firms to provide them with more information and support, including guidance on completing firm-wide sanctions risk assessments. The regulator has also included information on client identification and screening procedures, which firms can do for free using an online tool offered by the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI).

Juliet Oliver, SRA deputy chief executive, said: “The sanctions regime applies to all firms that provide legal services, not just those that are captured by the anti-money laundering regulations.

“Firms we have written to responded to our survey last year by saying they did not have or were not aware of a written-down firm-wide risk assessment, or the process for identifying an ultimate beneficial owner. The support we’ve provided should help address these issues and help firms remain compliant.”

The UK government modified its sanctions regime after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, adding hundreds of Russia-affiliated individuals and entities to its list of sanctioned entities.

Last November, it was revealed that nearly 130 UK companies had voluntarily disclosed to breaching Russia-related sanctions.

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