The UK lawyers’ watchdog has fined law firm Woking Buglear Bate & Co £2,000 for claiming it failed to have policies in place to prevent money laundering money and the financing of terrorism.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has fined the firm £2,000 and ordered it to pay £600 in costs after it admitted failing to comply with money laundering legislation.
The regulator said the law firm failed to comply with regulations requiring it to have anti-money laundering (AML) policies in place.
The watchdog said Buglear Bate’s conduct was ‘reckless’ as it noted the company had failed to properly review a payment of £75,000 into his customer account.
In explaining where the funds came from, the law firm said £25,000 of the money was ‘leases’ and £50,000 came from a ‘loan’ – without giving further details.
The SRA imposed a ‘base’ fine of £2,000 on the law firm, as the watchdog said the fine would create a ‘credible deterrent to others’ against breaching the AML rules.
The fine against Buglear Bate comes after research by City AM showed that the SRA increased the number of fines imposed on law firms sixfold over the five-year period from 2017/18 to 2021/ 22.
The main increase in the number and value of fines comes as the SRA took a more proactive stance in the fight against money laundering after new rules were introduced in 2017.