Fraser Sinclair is the AML Auditor in our Financial Compliance team.

The AML landscape is changing and coming under ever growing scrutiny at national and international level. As the AML supervisor for law firms across Scotland it is vital that the Law Society of Scotland continues to deliver a robust regulatory regime which benefits both our members and members of the public.

Late last year we launched the AML Certificate, an in-depth questionnaire about the products, services, and clients of firms who fall within the scope of the 2017 Regulations.  The Certificate is a crucial tool in our statutory obligation to deploy a risk-based approach to our AML Supervision and completing it, was a significant ask of our members - particularly against the backdrop of already demanding workloads. 

How did it go?

Given that this was the first run of the Certificate, there were the inevitable teething issues and we know that a small number of you experienced some tech issues along the way. Rest assured, we have recorded these and our IT team is working to ensure a smoother user journey in the 2019 submission.

However, I am very pleased to confirm that every firm expected to return a Certificate, has now done so.  A fantastic result and I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every firm for your efforts. Your cooperation is testament to a willingness to work together to minimise the risks to our profession.

What did we find?

We are still busy crunching the numbers and aim to share some high level findings with you in March, but a first sift has revealed some valuable insight. The information you provided will prove vital in our efforts to implement a fairer, evidence-driven and risk-based approach to AML supervision.  Ultimately, we anticipate that this will put us in a stronger position to detect and disrupt attempts to move the proceeds of crime through the Scottish legal sector. Thank you.

What next?

We are all well aware of the ethical, economic and reputational importance of staying ahead of the curve in terms of AML strategies and measures, particularly in light of recent international and governmental publications indicating that the UK legal sector remains at high risk of Money Laundering. The annual AML Certificate is one our most important tools in carrying out our duties as an AML Supervisor - however it represents just one part of the work we will carry out into the coming year and beyond.

My colleague, Alex White, will shortly be asking firms who carry out Trust and Company Service provision to collaborate in a ‘thematic review’ of this area of work. This, the first of our AML thematic exercises, signals our intent to continue collaborating with Scottish law firms to understand the risks we face together, and we foresee further similar pieces of research featuring in our future work. More will follow from Alex on this; keep an eye on the website and our LawScot news updates and if you are not yet familiar with our online AML Toolkit and FAQs please do take a look and feel free to drop us a line with any comments or questions, which we will add to our FAQs.

Meanwhile, thank you again.


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Anti-money laundering

The fight against money laundering and counter terrorist financing - the role of the legal profession.