In 2019, the Australian Government may introduce new anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) laws that affect lawyers and law firms.
How will AML/CTF laws apply to lawyers to law firms?
Lawyers work closely with clients to help them structure and manage their assets, businesses and personal arrangements. When advising clients or assisting them to look after their interests, you may potentially be putting yourself at risk from being used by criminals or their associates. The new AML/CTF laws will be designed to protect you and help you identify any potentially risky transactions. Ultimately, they will help you keep yours, and your firm's, hard earned reputation intact.
The laws will affect your business if you:
- Act as a formation agent for legal arrangements
- Act as, or arrange for someone else to act as, a nominee director or nominee shareholder for your clients
- Provide your clients with a registered office or business address
- Manage your client's funds, accounts, securities or other assets
- Give your clients advice about buying, selling or transferring assets or money
- Help your clients buy, sell or transfer assets or money
- Help your clients create new legal arrangements or structures
- Manage trust accounts for your clients
- Give instructions to someone about conveyancing for the grant, sale or purchase of any interest in land.
You will have to meet new regulatory obligations
Under the new laws you may need to:
- Assess how risky your clients are. This may involve conducting due diligence on them and their related businesses to determine who their beneficial owners are. This will be particularly important where there are high-risk transactions
- Undertake due diligence on your employees
- Nominate someone in your firm to be your AML/CTF Compliance Officer
- Put in place an AML/CTF Risk Awareness training program
- Put in place an AML/CTF Program
- Provide reporting to AUSTRAC on your compliance
- Report anything suspicious to AUSTRAC
- Have an independent party review your AML/CTF Program
Make sure you have an expert on your side
As a lawyer, you know how important it is to have a specialist on your side. At AML Experts, we're lawyers who specialise in helping people comply with the AML/CTF laws and rules.
We're best placed to help you because we:
- Have assisted law firms in the UK and New Zealand to implement AML/CTF Programs under similar laws, so we know what you need to do.
- Are lawyers so we understand how law firms operate and the risks they face
- Have experience advising law firms on risk
- Can give you advice on issues like client confidentiality and legal professional privilege
- Can help you decide the best way for your business to verify your customers
- Can give you detailed and practical advice on the AML/CTF Act