Risk Update

Webinar Recording — Expert panel on Law Firm Anti-money Laundering in 2022

Webinar recording: “AML in 2022: Nothing Can Be as Bad as 2021…Right?” —

  • “One of the many ever-increasing challenges firms currently face is ensuring proper due diligence while managing their risk assessment processes. Firms are constantly seeking out new ways to address this issue and implement best practices for conducting necessary checks throughout the client and matter opening processes.”
  • “We [spoke] with two leading subject matter experts on risk-related issues such as Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) expectations and expanding risk awareness.”
  • Panelists: Emma Oettinger (Head of Financial Crime and Risk, Ashurst) and Amasis Saba (Head of Business Acceptance for U.K., CE, and MENA, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer)
  • Oettinger:
    • “…as this last week has shown us with the Russia/Ukraine conflict, as the compliance team, operationally, you’re going to be able to have to react really quickly on individual matters and engaging… management you’ll probably also be finding is asking you for the big picture questions on ‘What’s my exposure?'”
    • “Yes a lot of systems are designed to be looking at countries. But again what this has kind of shown us and we’ve known for a number of years you need to be aware of Crimea and Savastopol. But how had people started actually going: “Am I aware of what my Donbas region exposure is within my Russia?’ Is there a way that I can see that? Maybe it’s through the conflicts system rather than a risk system that you’re picking that up… that issue of being able to track within your system if you can or being able to see that yes just because my client is based in Cyprus and my UBO [Ultimate Beneficial Ownership] had a Maltese passport, actually they’re also a Russian oligarch. Can your system log those three points?”
  • Saba:
    • “… the difference with the sanctions part to note is it’s not entirely a risk-based approach. It’s effectively a zero-sum game. If you breach sanctions you breach sanctions, the end. So there is that to be bear born in mind, especially in relation to transactional work… a lot of places take a great deal of comfort in “Don’t worry we’ve checked the name,” but making sure that your teams are across elements such as dual use, or ‘Hey this involves no Russian companies but appears to involve mining, offshore, or deep or shale. Sometimes it’s really important that, if you’ve got a vague description, especially if you have a Russian office or you know that the client might be be working in that area those are really places where you need to make sure that people are aware of the risk.”