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Clyde & Co in joint-record £50,000 fine

Three corporate partners also fined for breaches of Accounts Rules

4 April 2017

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The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has handed Clyde & Co a joint-record £50,000 fine and given three of its partners £10,000 fines each after the firm’s client account was used as a banking facility.

Clydes and its corporate partners, Christopher Duffy, Simon Chamberlain, and Nick Purnell, admitted acting contrary to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Accounts Rules and failing to act in accordance with their obligations under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.

The firm, Duffy, and Purnell also admitted failing to heed the Law Society’s guidance on fraudulent financial arrangements. They also failed to heed the warning notice on money laundering by acting as an escrow agent in client transactions that had the hallmarks of dubious financial arrangements or investment schemes.

The international law firm also admitted failing to have in place adequate procedures to deal with dormant client balances in accordance with the regulator’s accounts rules.

In a statement Clydes said it had taken steps to improve its risk management so similar breaches do not happen again: 'We hold ourselves to the highest professional and ethical standards and take responsibility for ensuring we meet them.

'We acknowledge that in three matters that occurred in 2013 and prior, we did not meet those high standards and the firm and three of its partners did act in breach of the SRA Accounts Rules and The Money Laundering Regulations, which also led to breaches of certain SRA Principles and Code.

'We believe it to be clear and the SRA does not dispute, that any mistakes made were honest and inadvertent. It is not alleged that the firm or the three partners lacked integrity, probity or trustworthiness, or laundered or misappropriated money.

'We have worked constructively with our regulator, the SRA and we are confident that the circumstances which led to these breaches could not happen again. We have since reviewed and strengthened a number of aspects of our approach to risk management.'

The decision was handed down on 21 March. Further information will be available when the SDT publishes its full judgment.

In 2015 London practice Fuglers also received a £50,000 fine after it provided banking facilities for Portsmouth FC which was facing financial difficulty.

Matthew Rogers is a legal reporter at Solicitors Journal

matthew.rogers@solicitorsjournal.co.uk | @lex_progress

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