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Can Cash Still Be King? – by Siobhain Egan

Individuals and businesses alike are feeling the aftershocks of recent banking and money laundering scandals. Their banks are suddenly becoming hyper-vigilant and are choosing to close their accounts with limited notice periods because they believe that their customers are now operating at unacceptable risk levels.

Mr and Mrs Shah (Shah v HSBC) found, to their enormous financial cost, the consequences of having a SAR made against them by their bank.

New money laundering regulations are due to be enforced; the National Crime Agency has pledged to make money laundering offences their priority when they launch in 2013. Increasingly, aggressive regulators and prosecuting authorities are working together with the major financial institutions.

Suppose you found yourself in the position of making a SAR concerning a client or customer. Would you also be open to civil action for any loss that they sustained because of your decision to report them?

So, how do you protect yourself and your business?

You will need to be fully compliant with ALL financial crime regulation including fraud, market abuse, tax offences, bribery and corruption. It is imperative that you have specific systems and procedures in place that are tailored to your business; systems which are detailed, transparent and show a clear audit trial supporting your decision to make a SAR (or not), for example.

It certainly will not be enough to download an “off the peg” AML compliance programme or to seek advice from your company lawyer or audit accountant.

It is not sufficient to assure yourself that you recognise the following abbreviations: PEP, SAR, AML, MLRO or KYC.

If you deal with other jurisdictions, are you aware of their individual money laundering regulations?

You will need independent advice and help from specialist solicitors and forensic accountants who are up to date with all policy changes in this area, who can assist you if you suspect a financial crime has been committed and who is au fait with the rapid changes in fraudulent/criminal behaviour.

We have been defending serious financial crime allegations for over thirty years and, working alongside the very best forensic accountants, can advise on all the necessary regulatory systems to protect you and your business: compliance advice from a firm that has thirty years experience of dealing with regulators and prosecutors alike.

As for cash... it has relinquished its throne some time ago!

If you require any advice please contact Jeffrey Lewis or Siobhain Egan.

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