As the UK and Scottish Governments continue to intensify their focus on Anti-Money Laundering measures and scrutiny of professional body supervisors, we are continuing to build our capabilities in this area – both to fulfill our responsibilities as a supervisor and to support our members’ compliance. Given that context, there is a huge volume of valuable information and materials available and we have rounded these up for you below.
Earlier this year, we let you know that we would be setting up a new anti-money laundering committee to ensure we are best placed to meet our statutory obligations as a responsible and effective AML regulator. This committee is now in place and has had its first meeting meetings. You can find out which of your colleagues sits on the committee on our website and we will share more information about their work in the months ahead.
Last year, in the inaugural roll-out of the AML Certificate process, all firms covered by the scope of the regulations were required to provide information for the period of 1 November to 31 October within a three month submission period.
This year we are keen to apply our learnings from last year and one of the key changes will be to the 'relevant period', that is, the period for which you will need to provide data and the submission period.
We will now be asking you to provide data for the period between 1 January to 31 December and respondents will have a three month period, from 1 February to 30 April to complete the process.
In this, the first year operating to the new schedule, respondents will be required to include extra data relating to October to December 2018, so we do not have a gap in our reporting. To be clear, this year's AML Certificate will ask questions relating to a fourteen month period.
Earlier this year, Alex White, our AML Auditor, let you know about our thematic review of Trust or Company Services Provision (TCSP) by the legal profession – a risk based approach to an inherently high-risk area of business, as highlighted by HM Treasury’s 2017 National Risk Assessment.
We are now in stage three of the review and four firms who act as Trust and Company Service Providers have been selected to take part. This involves a review of their internal controls as well as sample TCSP files. We are always grateful for our members’ cooperation and would like to thank the 30 firms who completed the stage one questionnaire.
We will analyse the data, share our high-level findings for the benefit and interest of our members and take the appropriate actions in due course.
The Money Laundering Regulations oblige us to develop risk profiles for each firm on which to base the frequency and intensity of our supervision. Based on the data gathered in the AML Certification process and other factors, we have now built these profiles and we are currently piloting an enhanced risk-based inspection process with a small sample of firms, with a view to rolling this out across the wider supervised population of firms in 2020. You can find out more in Graham’s blog.
Earlier this year, SARs Liason Lead at the UK Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU), Tony Fitzpatrick, got together with our Head of Anti-money laundering (AML), Graham Mackenzie to film a free webinar for Law Society of Scotland members incorporating key information on Suspicious Activity Reports (SARS) and Defence Against Money Laundering (DAMLs). This is now available for you to watch or listen to and you may wish to claim non verifiable CPD for this. You will need to sign in to the members area to access this content.
The war to keep the proceeds of crime out of the Scottish legal sector is best waged in collaboration with our partners across the UK and we work closely with the National Crime Agency (NCA) to deliver our shared goals.
We often hear from members that it is unclear where SARs go and whether they ever prove valuable to the National Crime Agency. The NCA produce some invaluable insight which will help to answer your questions and an occasional magazine detailing their use of SARS. Take a look.