The new Money Laundering Regulations are not designed to prevent money laundering. Rather they are designed to quickly detect black money entering the EEA or the UK. Detection (rather than prevention) funds enforcement, with any surplus swelling governmental coffers. But there is one very practical and fatal flaw in their operation.

From the perspective of the solicitor with one eye on the expense of time, the first answer to any obvious attempt at money laundering is to refuse to act and show the client the door. Thereby detection is prevented. Why would the solicitor act when he/she knows a suspicious activity report with supporting documentation will likely waste significant time?

The launderer then moves undetected to another solicitor(s), until eventually they find an unsuspecting practitioner. This roundabout places our professional colleagues at risk.

There is no motivation, indeed a heavy expense incurred when the practitioner chooses to act and seeks permission to proceed. A recent example of mine has cost four hours examining documents, taking copies, writing to the FSU and the expense of a quite heavy recorded delivery package. My motivation for doing so was to make sure that client did not successfully attend another solicitor in our faculty.

If this system is to work, the practising solicitor needs recompensed for his/her time, failing which our best answer is to show the client the door and let the risk roundabout rotate.

Ed Wright, Black & McCorry, Livingston