Review your AML policies, Law Society warns firms – John Binns speaks to Solicitors Journal

Review your AML policies, Law Society warns firms – John Binns speaks to Solicitors Journal

BCL partner John Binns has been quoted by Solicitors Journal in their article titled ‘Review your AML policies, Law Society warns firms’.

Here’s an extract from the article:

Solicitors must review their anti-money laundering policies in light of definitive new guidance, the Law Society warned. But the guidance has attracted criticism for being “forbidding” and failing to be sufficiently simple and user-friendly. 

The Legal Sector Affinity Group (LSAG) has just launched new guidance following a “radical overhaul” in light of the complex risks and challenges. It comes in the wake of the fifth money laundering directive (5AMLD) which came into force a year ago.

The new guidance, which has yet to be approved by HM Treasury, takes in changes to client due diligence and enhanced due diligence, and a duty to collect proof of registration for trusts and companies. 

John Binns, a partner at BCL Solicitors, described the document as “lengthy, dense and somewhat forbidding” but “much more ambitious” than its predecessor. But he expressed concern that it is not easy to see at a glance what has changed. He said: “Perhaps this is something the LSAG could consider clarifying.”

“I think it is fair to say that even the larger, most AML-resourced firms will take some time to absorb the detail of this, and the majority of firms will not take the time to review it until a particular issue arises or they update their risk assessments.

“That is a pity, because the challenge of AML is to get to a place where any practitioner who might come across risks or red flags is in a position to know what to do. That means user-friendly, simple guides, not long essays or endless tick-box forms.”

Binns warned that the profession is now facing tougher enforcement, and probably a levy to pay for the privilege of being AML-regulated”. He said what firms really need is “a properly user-friendly way in to this increasingly difficult world, so that they can play their part in disrupting economic crime, without having to become AML specialists”. This does not appear to fulfil that need, he observed.


This article was originally published by Solicitors Journal on 20/01/2021. You can read the full article on their website.

John Binns is a partner at BCL specialising in all aspects of business crime, with a particular interest in confiscation, civil recovery and money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”). His business crime experience includes representing suspects, defendants and witnesses in cases invoking allegations of bribery and corruption, fraud (including carbon credits, carousel/MTIC, land-banking, Ponzi and pyramid scheme frauds), insider trading, market abuse, price-fixing, sanctions-busting, and tax evasion. He has coordinated and undertaken corporate investigations and defended in cases brought by BEIS, the FCA, HMRC, NCA, OFT, SFO and others.