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Increased Money Laundering Investigations Into Law Firms

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental organisations created by the G7 in 1989 to investigate financial crime, will begin its investigations into money-laundering practices in the UK in 2016.

The groups report on money laundering and terrorist financing in July 2013 said the legal profession was proving ‘very attractive’ to organised crime. The FATF have voiced concern over the falling numbers of reports of financial impropriety and increasing number of fraudulent firms taking the identity of law firms, particularly in conveyancing transactions.

In light of these investigations any law firm that holds client funds will need to review the money laundering measures in place before April 2016. Around 9,000 firms are in the practice of holding client’s money and all are expected to prepare to come under scrutiny from the financial crime monitor. Firms should be looking for guidance from regulating bodies on training their relationship managers and on how best to perform client due diligence, while enabling staff to thoroughly undertake this practice also.

For those wishing to purchase property it may mean a revised system by which your details are checked when attempting to pay for your property. Additionally, it could mean longer weighting times in processing payments as security is improved or new procedures are acclimatised to. 

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