Top City law firm Mishcon de Reya has been slapped with a record £232,500 fine, plus costs, after major breaches of money laundering rules.
The prestigious firm has agreed to pay a £232,500 fine, in addition to £50,000 towards investigation costs, after a probe from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
The regulator concluded that certain actions from the firm had “potential to cause significant harm by facilitating transactions that gave rise to a risk of facilitating money laundering”.
The investigation looked at work carried out for two individual clients, and corporate vehicles connected to them, between September 2015 and April 2017.
The work concerned the proposed acquisition of two separate entities that had “higher risk of money laundering or terrorist financing” under money-laundering legislation, as they involved firms in high-risk jurisdictions.
Mischon de Reya did not carry out an adequate level of due diligence or ongoing monitoring, the SRA concluded.
A payment of £965,000 was made into Mischon de Reya’s client account between 22 July and 28 July 2016. Three payments, the highest of which was equivalent to £810,000, were made, none of which related to the firm’s delivery of services.
This represented a breach of rules banning client accounts being used as banking facilities.
The fine is almost double the previous highest of £124,436. However, a spokesperson for Mishcon de Reya said the fine was not the largest imposed by the SRA as it covered two separate investigations, the Guardian newspaper reported.
A Mishcon de Reya spokesperson said: “We are pleased to have come to a settlement with the SRA relating to two separate and historic investigations in relation to which we have made appropriate admissions. Mitigating factors such as our cooperation with the SRA throughout the investigations and the corrective action we have taken since to prevent a recurrence have been recognised by the SRA in reaching this outcome.”