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17 March 2020

Withers rebuked for failing to provide appropriate anti-money laundering training

Top international private client and family law firm admits failing to comply with UK regulations

Anti-Money Laundering: regulations require appropriate training of relevant staff Shutterstock

Withers has been rebuked by the UK’s law firm regulator for failing to provide appropriate anti-money laundering training to its staff.

The public rebuke is contained in a regulatory agreement published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) which says Withers failed to comply with The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 over a 28-month period.

‘There was a breach of statutory obligations... which once highlighted to the firm in November 2018 was not remedied in a timely fashion,’ the regulatory agreement states.

‘The firm’s conduct was non-compliant because all of its relevant employees need to be aware of the relevant anti-money laundering legislation, especially when considering the nature of the work the firm undertakes and its client base.’

The SRA said a rebuke was a proportionate response because it created a credible deterrent to other firms and there was no evidence of lasting harm to consumers or third parties. In addition, the breach had been remedied and there was a low risk of repetition.

‘Notwithstanding the absence of regular training, the firm did take some other steps to make relevant employees aware of the relevant anti-money laundering legislation, and training has now been delivered to all relevant employees,’ the agreement added.

Withers said in a statement: “We welcome the SRA's acknowledgement that this breach did not result in any lasting harm to consumers or third parties and that, notwithstanding our delay in training some of our relevant people, we carried out an internal awareness raising programme concerning the anti-money laundering legislation.  

“We take our obligations concerning anti-money laundering duties very seriously and are confident that we have all appropriate measures in place to monitor and recognise any risk factors in relation to money laundering.”

Withers agreed to pay the SRA's investigation costs of £1,350. 

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