Economy & Politics

Lawyers self-regulate while waiting for the FATF

Postponed until the end of 2021 due to the pandemic, the visit of experts from the international body is pushing the various market players to organize themselves in the fight against financial crime. Example with the order of lawyers which can impose a fine of up to one million euros.

Postponed until the end of 2021 due to the pandemic, the visit of experts from the international body is pushing the various market players to organize themselves in the fight against financial crime. Example with the order of lawyers which can impose a fine of up to one million euros.

(Jmh with Julie Edde) – Among the measures put in place in Luxembourg to meet the international requirements of the fight against financial crime, that of the Bar Association remains unknown. Created in July 2020, the Luxembourg Bar Control Commission (CCBL) officially monitors compliance with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules among the 3,000 members of the Bar.


The Grand Duchy must prove that it has rolled up its sleeves in its fight against dirty money.

Four days after the visit of the emissaries of the Financial Action Group (Gafi), the government is preparing the interrogation of 2020. It will have to prove that its legislative activism is followed by facts, at the risk of tarnishing the image of the country.


A self-regulatory mission which “was not born from the announcement of the visit of the FATF experts”, assures François Prum, president of the CCBL, quoted by our colleagues from LuxTimes. For the former president of the bar, the committee “has been carrying out checks, initiating procedures and imposing sanctions” for ten years, even the activity has really accelerated since 2018. In parallel with the transposition of the fifth anti-directive – money laundering which imposes new missions on the various supervisory bodies of market players.

In the viewfinder of the eight lawyers and two experts of the control commission, the conformity of the practices of the firms with regard to the essential checks of new clients. Whether it is their absence from the various international sanctions lists, compliance with the criteria of good repute or even the application of anti-money laundering procedures for so-called “transactional” activities. In the event that any gaps are discovered, the CCBL grants a period of time to allow the situation to be corrected before a second visit. The sanction, which can go up to one million euros, falls in the event of non-compliance.

In the past four years, eleven disciplinary proceedings have been initiated, six fines have been imposed and one lawyer has been suspended from the Bar according to data provided by the Bar. Without however specifying the detailed amount of the fines sent. In 2020, 149 official reports were sent by the Bar Association to the Financial Intelligence Unit, an absolute record since 2010.

In an internal survey carried out by the Bar, 23% of the market’s law firms believe they carry out activities that fall within the scope of AML (anti-money laundering) devices. A figure a priori low but which would represent two thirds of the lawyers registered with the Bar simply because the ten most important firms of the Place carry out such activities and employ nearly half of the lawyers of Luxembourg.


Luxembourg is expected to take the turn, after passing several laws and amendments that facilitate the fight against money laundering.

The financial action group in charge in particular of the fight against money laundering announced on Tuesday that it had changed the schedule of its next tour, due to the pandemic. Luxembourg’s assessments are thus delayed by one year.


Ahead of the visit scheduled for October 2021 by FATF experts, the Bar has already selected certain firms that international specialists will be able to visit. “Not because we know that these firms would comply better than others”, assures François Prum, always quoted by our colleagues. Note that this preselection turns out to be purely formal, since FATF members can visit any entity registered in the Grand Duchy.


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