Three Clyde & Co partners receive £10,000 fines for money laundering breaches

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Three Clyde & Co partners have each been fined £10,000 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) for breaching money laundering rules.

Projects partner Nick Purnell and corporate partners Christopher Duffy and Simon Gamblin, all of who are based in London, admitted that they had allowed the firm’s client bank account to be used as a banking facility, which breached a number of regulations under the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.

Duffy and Purnell admitted that they had not heeded the Law Society’s Fraudulent Financial Arrangements warning or the Warning Notice on Money Laundering, in that they acted as escrow agent in transactions on behalf of a client that had the hallmarks of dubious financial arrangements or investment schemes.

Clydes has also been ordered to pay £50,000 by the SDT for its failure to comply with accounting rules. The firm admitted that it failed to have in place adequate procedures to deal with dormant client balances, which breached the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998.

A Clydes spokesperson said: “We hold ourselves to the highest professional and ethical standards and take responsibility for ensuring we meet them.

“We acknowledge that in three matters that occurred in 2013 and prior, we did not meet those high standards and the firm and three of its partners did act in breach of the SRA Accounts Rules and The Money Laundering Regulations, which also led to breaches of certain SRA Principles and Code.

“We believe it to be clear, and the SRA does not dispute, that any mistakes made were honest and inadvertent. It is not alleged that the firm or the three partners lacked integrity, probity or trustworthiness, or laundered or misappropriated money.

“We have worked constructively with our regulator, the SRA and we are confident that the circumstances which led to these breaches could not happen again. We have since reviewed and strengthened a number of aspects of our approach to risk management.”

The case, which was brought by the SRA, was determined by the SDT on 21 March. Clydes was represented by David Langley, a lawyer in the firm’s in-house risk team.