Three partners also told to cough up £10,000 each
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) has published its ruling in a case that saw Clyde & Co slapped with a record £50,000 fine for breaching money laundering and accounting rules.
Three London-based partners at the international outfit admitted allowing a client account to be used as a banking facility, despite there being no underlying legal transaction. The actions, which took place in 2013, were in breach of Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) accounting rules, plus obligations under The Money Laundering Regulations 2007. Clyde & Co was fined £50,000, while the lawyer trio, Christopher Duffy, Simon Gamblin and Nick Purnell, were handed financial penalties of £10,000 each.
In the SDT’s newly-released judgment, the failures were described as “serious” but “not at the highest level”. None of the partners, nor Clyde & Co itself, were found to have lacked integrity, probity or trustworthiness, though the panel said those involved “had let down the profession.” Continuing, it stated:
The defaults in question were particularly glaring as the firm was a large and, previously, reputable firm; it would be expected to set an example to other firms in its compliance systems. Also, [the partners] were experienced solicitors. [Duffy], the relevant MLRO [Money Laundering Reporting Officer], had failed to carry out his duties to the standard expected.
In a statement, Clyde & Co — which has 46 offices across 21 different countries — said it held itself “to the highest professional and ethical standards.” It continued:
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.
Read the judgment in full below:
For all the latest news, features, events and jobs, sign up to Legal Cheek’s weekly newsletter here.