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Money-laundering compliance: A risk-based approach

The Money Laundering Regulations 2004 have recently come into force, extending anti-money-laundering controls across the profession. Failure to implement and document money-laundering procedures may lead to criminal sanctions and an irreparable loss of reputation. Frank Maher, a partner at Legal Risk, considers the impact of the regulations and how a risk-based approach can help protect firms from the dangers of falling foul of the law.

11 June 2004

Shark-infested waters are a poor place to learn to swim, yet many money laundering reporting officers (MLROs) fear that they are in similar territory.

Top international practices are finding that the day-to-day challenges to money-laundering compliance are every bit as demanding as they feared, with their partners telling them that the rules they have laid down are in some way unworkable. Practical issues affect corporate and litigation firms too; it is not just a problem for high-street practices.

The potential loss of livelihood for individuals and reputational damage for firms inevitably cause a huge fear factor. Given the complexity of professional practice, the inevitable question is where to start?

Even if you plan your strategy, things may still go wrong. But the benefit of taking a risk-based approach is that in addition to reducing the risk of things going wrong in the first place, you may have better prospects of avoiding prosecution ...

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