The Law Society of Scotland is working with representatives from across the UK’s legal sector to update anti-money laundering (AML) guidance, following changes brought about by the Money Laundering Regulations, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (MLRs), which have come into effect this week.
The Society, as an active member of the UK-wide Money Laundering Legal Sector Affinity Group (LSAG), will be seeking HM Treasury approval of the AML guidance, which will apply to solicitors and all independent legal professionals. The UK Government's decision that there will be a single HM Treasury-approved piece of AML guidance per sector has meant the sign-off process requires the agreement of 11 legal sector regulatory and representative bodies.
Graham MacKenzie, AML Auditor at the Law Society of Scotland, said: “While we had hoped to have had the guidance approved and published ahead of the new MLRs coming into effect today, unfortunately this has not been possible because of the extremely quick timescales.
“The final version of the MLRs was published by the government on Thursday 22 June and came into force on Monday 26 June. We updated the guidance based on the draft MLRs and sent this to HM Treasury. We are now reviewing the final version to ensure any last minute changes are accounted for and we will publish the final guidance as soon as possible.
“We recognise that many of the changes required under the new regulations may in turn mean significant changes to firms’ systems and controls and we will press to have the final guidance approved as quickly as possible to provide clarity for our members.”
The LSAG has informed HM Treasury of its view that, given the very short timescale between having sight of the final version of the new regulations and when they come into force, firms and individuals should have a period of time to adjust to their new obligations.
The Law Society will publish an updated version of the guidance based on the final version of the MLRs as soon as it is available.