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compliance

Financial crime risk management - be it related to money laundering, terrorist financing, fraud or embezzlement purposes, to say nothing of anti-bribery requirements - is expensive. For small businesses, it's cost prohibitive. Compliance is even worse. Is it feasible, permissible, even advisable to share the burden with others?

For the second time recently, a matter before the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal in England and Wales has considered the use of a firm's clients' account for the provision of quasi-banking services. The SDT is starting to impose more substantial penalties and has clearly had enough of solicitors who fail to comply with their obligations under counter-money laundering laws and regulations. Like in the first case, the solicitor concerned is elderly and one might say that he might be considered as having carried on long-standing practices in the face of changing practice requirements and culture.

The judgment in the AUSTRAC -v-Tabcorp civil case is a landmark: it's the first civil case that AUSTRAC has brought to a conclusion in court. But the judgment is only the latest step in a long running investigation and series of regulatory actions against the ASX-listed gambling giant.

The Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal (which, trendily, omits the apostrophe when it writes its own name) has levied its largest fine ever. Like the previous largest, it's against the London office of a US law firm.

CoNet Section: 

When the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) story first appeared, I instructed World Money Laundering Report that we should not become involved in what would inevitably become a frenzy of speculation and ill-informed comment as consultants (of which I am, obviously, one) and media outlets vied to benefit their own profile, and to get website visits, while the story was hot. I wrote what amounted to a placeholder article .

A post on LinkedIn recently * says "In the line of duty as a Compliance, I always said to my friend and subordinate; "Never ever say can not until the regulation really declare can not"."

Is this a safe policy?

It's pathetic: according to a report in The Law Society's Gazette, the official publication of the Law Society of England and Wales, "The Legal Sector Affinity Group, whose members include the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority, has told the Treasury that a ‘sensible supervisory approach’ to the new regulations would give firms and individuals time to adjust to their new obligations." Apparently the membership body and the regulator haven't had time to prepare their Guidance. Too busy with finding new crazy obligations to impose on an already over-stretched profession, one might conclude.

Standard Chartered Bank has been ordered to pay SGD5.2m and Coutts (at the relevant time part of Royal Bank of Scotland) to pay SGD2.4 million for breaches of the Monetary Authority of Singapore's counter-money laundering requirements. It's also a slap in the face for Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib because the penalties arise from compliance failures relating to 1MDB, Najib's flagship project. There is also the minor matter of a Goldman Sachs employee and false statements.

Ocean Bank of Miami, Florida, has been issued with penalties by the Federal Deposit Indemnity Corporation, Florida Office of Financial Regulation and FinCEN in respect of a series of breaches of the Bank Secrecy Act and other anti-money laundering laws and regulations. The bank neither admits nor denies the allegations.

 


 

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