The legal sector has always been fraught with AML challenges, but in recent years the stakes have been raised by surging risks, increasingly complex regulatory requirements, and stronger supervision.
Balancing commercial success while navigating costly AML regulations through CDD is a difficulty keenly felt by law firms.
Failure to comply with AML laws
On the one hand, failure to comply with AML laws could result in:
- Exorbitant fines
- Reputational damage, hurting new and existing client relations
- Further fallout, should a fraudster take over a client’s account or pose as a new client to embezzle funds from the sale of a business, property or estate
Globally, regulators are ramping up AML enforcement. The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) 2020-21 AML report found that 83% of firms audited had insufficient CDD. At the same time, the number of AML-related fines against UK law firms increased six-fold in the past five years. In the UAE, seven law firms were each recently fined Dh100,000 for breaking AML regulations.
On the other hand, CDD standards can be hard to meet and may require exceptional manual effort, making them costly and difficult to scale.
CDD requirements include:
- including the customer’s full name, address, contact details, occupation, tax details, photo identification and more.
- including the source of funds, the business model and more
- depending on location, business type and more
Ongoing monitoring and keeping:
- Post-onboarding record keeping, scrutinising transactions and updating client info
Unsurprisingly, these checks, involving extensive manual document handling, can be frustrating and inconvenient for both law firms and customers, posing a significant risk to onboarding rates.
Thankfully, onboarding and CDD needn’t be a cumbersome process. With biometric solutions, legal firms can offer a fast, secure, and automated onboarding experience that meets CDD and AML obligations.
FacePhi presents a suite of biometric solutions to enable law firms and solicitors to conduct quick and robust KYC and AML background checks (PEP, sanctions, adverse media, blacklist screening) for fraud prevention and legal compliance. Find out more about FacePhi’s biometric technology-based remote client onboarding solutions here.