Globally recognised as a high-risk industry for money laundering and terrorist financing, the legal sector is experiencing greater pressure to address financial crime compliance.
Accuity, the leading global provider of financial crime screening, payments and know your customer (KYC) solutions, has been endorsed by the Law Society of England and Wales for the provision of anti-money laundering (AML) solutions for the legal sector. The financial crime screening portfolio offered by Accuity helps firms conduct sanctions, politically exposed persons (PEP) and enhanced due diligence (EDD) screening of their clients and transactions, and adhere to regulatory requirements.
Accuity has won this three-year endorsement and partnership contract for a fourth consecutive term, having worked closely with the Law Society to raise the standard of financial crime compliance across the legal sector since 2009. The Law Society is the professional body for 9,452 law firms and 140,000 practising solicitors in England and Wales. It represents, promotes and supports its members, driving excellence across the profession and safeguarding the rule of law.
Law Society president Christina Blacklaws said: “Independent legal professionals are lynchpins in the business and financial world, facilitating vital transactions that sustain the UK economy. Accuity financial crime screening solutions drive best practice across the profession, helping law firms screen clients and transactions to prevent financial crime.”
The legal sector, alongside financial services and other designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs), is accountable for putting in place provisions for preventing financial crimes, such as money laundering, terrorist financing, and bribery and corruption. A recent survey of the Challenges of AML for Law Firms found that 80 percent of respondents were struggling to make AML less process-orientated, and 85 percent admitted to conducting manual checks using public websites.
Andrew Goodall, International Risk and Compliance Director at Withers LLP said, “We have been working with Accuity for many years and their service has been invaluable in bolstering our firm-wide financial crime defences and helping to achieve our goal of streamlining our internal processes to increase efficiency. Using a solution that is respected by the Law Society helps to give confidence that our business and reputation is adequately protected from financial crime risk.”
In recent times, pressure has increased for firms to keep up with changing regulation and growing scrutiny relating to financial crime compliance. The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017, which transposed the Fourth EU Money Laundering Directive into UK law, extended the scope of firms’ responsibility to include conducting enhanced due diligence on domestic PEPs, writing risk assessments for regulated entities, and adhering to new beneficial ownership requirements.
David Wilson, CEO of Accuity, added, “It is more important than ever for legal firms to conduct proper due diligence when taking on clients or facilitating transactions. Firms need to understand the risk of doing business, not only at the point of client inception, but throughout the entire client engagement. Through our close work with the Law Society, we are educating the broad spectrum of firms across England and Wales about the very real financial crime risks that exist today, and helping them to mitigate those risks.”
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