The anti-money laundering (AML) guidance produced by the legal sector AML supervisors, including the Law Society, has now received the approval of HM Treasury.

There is one small change which is of significant concern: where the draft said ‘You should not ignore obvious forgeries, but you are not required to be an expert in forged documents’, it now adds that ‘You may consider providing relevant employees with appropriate training and equipment to help identify forged documents’.

This imposes a far higher obligation on solicitors, most likely to impact on smaller firms, which is not expected of financial institutions.  It is fanciful to believe that solicitors can acquire the skills of forensic document examiners in which even immigration authorities and law enforcement may be deficient.

The SRA has published its second Thematic Review which appears to be reasonably thorough, and its sectoral risk assessment which, although less inspiring than the Thematic Review, should form the basis for firms’ own risk assessments along with the national risk assessment and knowledge of their services, clients and delivery channels.

Links to these documents, and details of the other changes in the Treasury-approved AML guidance, can be found on

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