SDT publishes judgment that saw Clyde & Co hit with record £50,000 fine for money laundering and accounting rule breaches

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Three partners also told to cough up £10,000 each

Clyde & Co’s London office

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:

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Not Amused

“the firm was a large and, previously, reputable firm”

Hang on a second, that’s a disgraceful thing to put in a judgment (and I note, it is not true). That is the sort of snide comment which is better made in a bar or on twitter.

Clearly Clydes made an error. Clearly they have been punished. No doubt they and those specifically involved are mortified. But that is where it should end. Lessons can be learned. We can all move on. A £50,000 fine is hardly the worst punishment, reserved only for the most heinous criminals known to mankind. It’s just a fine.

Clydes have not lost their reputation because of this. I find the comment to be below the standard I expect of someone purporting to wield judicial (or quasi judicial) office.



“Purporting to wield”? Not Amused’s Tin Foil Antenna has discovered an imposter judge! Surely that is the real story?


Lord Keith of Kinky

They, and the individuals concerned got off very lightly indeed.

The level of fine for all concerned is also an absolute joke.



The SRA is just a big joke – they pander to the “magic circle” firms whilst using a sledge hammer to crack the smaller firms even for the smallest of infractions. If this had been a small “Khan and Co” type of firm the hearing would not have been in private, names would have been disclosed and PC’s would have been removed. The Firm would have been crucified. The SRA and the Law Society as a whole is just a sad pathetic moribund institution which bullies the weak and sucks up to the strong. PATHETIC!


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