Nearly two thirds of Scottish legal firms covered by the Money Laundering Regulations have non-UK clients, and one in three sell property worth more than £1m, according to figures released by the Law Society of Scotland.
The data are taken from information provided by practices who returned their first anti-money laundering certificates, a new requirement by the Society in order to comply with the regulations.
They reveal that 62% of these firms have non-UK clients, with even some of the smallest doing business with entities in "inherently high risk or secrecy jurisdictions like Seychelles, British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas".
Regarding residential conveyancing, where although most transactions are low risk, the National Risk Assessment has confirmed there is a high inherent risk for money laundering, the Society reports that more than a third of practitioners supervised under the regulations spend more than half their time, and 32% of firms sell properties worth more than £1m.
However only a relatively small number are engaged in trust or company services provision, one of the highest risk areas and one where the Society is currently carrying out a thematic review. It hopes this will draw out more detail on the extent of solicitors' involvement.