31 October 2018
Flag it Up Campaign
The Legal Sector Affinity Group urges lawyers to ‘Flag It Up’ to tackle the threat from ‘dirty money’.
The Legal Sector Affinity Group (LSAG) has today urged lawyers to support Flag It Up, the UK Government’s anti-money laundering campaign, and ‘flag up’ suspicions about potential ‘dirty’ or laundered money.
LSAG has partnered with the UK Government as part of its new-look Flag It Up campaign, to highlight the threat posed to the sector by money laundering. Flag It Up supports lawyers to spot the ‘red flags’ or warning signs of money laundering and encourages them to flag up any suspicions by submitting a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) to the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Some key red flags for lawyers to look out for include:
· whether clients are overly secretive or evasive
· if the activity is inconsistent with the client’s known legitimate income
· if a lawyer is being asked to act outside their usual speciality or have been offered an unusually high fee
· if activities involve complex or illogical business structures that make it unclear who is conducting a transaction or purchase.
Knowing the ‘red flags’ or signs can help protect lawyers and their firms from being caught up in criminality and from the resulting reputational risk, fines and prosecution.
The Flag It Up campaign has been devised to reach lawyers with a particular focus on solicitors as the HM Treasury/Home Office National Risk Assessment 2017 identified that solicitors are the group within the legal sector which is at the greatest risk from being targeted by criminals due to the work they do.
While the NCA’s National Strategic Assessment 2018 highlights that the scale of money laundering impacting the UK annually could potentially be in the hundreds of billions of pounds, lawyers remain a clear target for criminals looking to exploit their professional skills and services to facilitate money laundering. Lawyers have a legal obligation under the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 to file a SAR when they spot something suspicious, and SARs are invaluable to law enforcement in helping tackle money laundering and other crimes.
For additional information about the ‘Flag It Up’ campaign, or more advice on how to tackle money laundering, please visit FlagItUp.campaign.gov.uk