Anti-Money Laundering Guidance

Solicitors are subject to statutory anti-money laundering (AML) obligations. This section provides information for solicitors to assist in interpreting these duties.

List of resources

Select one of the sections below for more information:

Covid-19 resources

Essential public health restrictions present new opportunities for identity theft while, at the same time, restricting the key fraud and crime prevention tool of face-to-face identity verification. 

Non-face-to-face instructions can be a red flag but telephone and video instructions are suddenly the norm. The Society’s Policy & Public Affairs Department has developed guidance and compliance solutions to help solicitors navigate these challenges to enable business continuity.  

AML Guidance and resources

We have developed a number of new AML supports to help solicitors transition to compliance with the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Act 2018 (the Act). For a better browsing experience, please read any pdf documents on your desktop and using Adobe Reader (free to download) rather than a browser such as Chrome.

AML Infographics

Three infographics have been prepared to visually communicate solicitor AML, illustrating:

  1. The AML responsibilities within a solicitors’ firm
  2. A step-by-step approach to completing a Business Risk Assessment
  3. Customer Risk Assessment to determine CDD and ML/TF Risk

View the infographics.

2018 AML Guidance

Key features include:

  • Frequently asked questions about the new Act which supplements the 2010 Guidance Notes
  • Optimised for electronic use with bookmarks and search functionality
  • Glossary of terms
  • Summary of headline impacts of the 2018 Act on solicitor AML duties
  • Tips for how to transition to full compliance with the 2018 Act including ‘existing’ clients.

View the 2018 Guidance Notes.

Sample adaptable forms 

Use these forms to help you when updating your approach to AML:

  1. Business Risk Assessment
  2. Policies, Controls and Procedures
  3. Risk Factor Questionnaire for Customer Risk Assessment
  4. ‘Document your Thought Process’ forms for Customer Risk Assessment

Legislation

AML Law Reform Submissions

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Solicitors (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Regulations 2020

The Law Society has issued a practice note relating to the introduction of a new statutory instrument, (SI 377 of 2020) with regard to solicitors' statutory anti-money laundering (AML) obligations.

The statutory instrument does not impose any new obligations on solicitors with regard to their statutory AML obligations, nor does it confer any new powers on the Law Society regarding its statutory role as the competent authority for solicitors (in the context of monitoring and securing their compliance with AML obligations). 

The purpose of the Statutory Instrument is to update the previous regulations (Solicitors (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Regulations 2016) to take into account amendments to the primary legislation (Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 as amended.

The regulations have an operative date of 1 November 2020.

The Solicitors (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Regulations 2016 are revoked.

Solicitors who are currently in compliance with their statutory anti-money-laundering (AML) duties (last updated in November 2018) will already be in compliance with the new Solicitors (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Regulations 2020.

These regulations simply reflect current statutory obligations.

Information about relevant AML Supports can be viewed in the November 2020 Gazette.

Red Flags, Indicators of Suspicion and Money Laundering Typologies

Solicitors should be aware of the list of money laundering red flags in Chapter 9 of the Guidance Notes. You may also find it useful to review the following international documents about risk and red flags particular to the legal profession:

Sham Litigation

It's also important for solicitors to be mindful of sham litigation red flags. Typically, a solicitor is contacted by a new client, usually based outside the country, seeking to recover funds owed to them from an Irish-based company or a former partner. The new client instructs the solicitor in a litigation matter which places the legal service outside AML compliance duties. The instruction may be litigation for breach of contract or recovery of funds agreed in a family law settlement. Fraudulent supporting documentation, for example copy contracts/settlement agreements etc, and intricate background stories are often provided. Sometimes, the solicitor receives a sum of money from the third party and is instructed to deduct their fees and pass the remaining funds on to the client without ever having provided a legal service.

The Law Society frequently issues warnings to solicitors about potential money laundering scams involving fraudulent litigation/debt collection schemes. See the following notices which highlight the red flags which occur within this type of money laundering typology:

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MOU with Department of Justice and Equality re TCSPs

The Jan/Feb 2016 Law Society practice note launched the Department of Justice and Equality memorandum of understanding (MOU) about:

  • Trust and company legal services, and
  • Trust and company service providers (TCSPs).

The purpose of the MOU is to clarify the division of responsibilities regarding which competent authority is responsible for (a) trust and company legal services and (b) TCSPs. The MOU does not introduce any new regulatory obligations for solicitors or new monitoring obligations for the Law Society and does not amend the Law Society’s Guidance Notes for Solicitors on Anti-Money Laundering Obligations.

Solicitors can learn more about how the Law Society fulfils its obligations as a competent authority in Chapter 13 of the Guidance Notes and in the Law Society's statutory instrument, Solicitors (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Regulations) 2016.

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AML and CFT National Risk Assessment 

Ireland has produced its first Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism National Risk Assessment

This assessment aims to provide a broad assessment of  Money Laundering (ML) and Terrorist Financing (TF) risks in Ireland in order to enhance understanding and develop strategies to deal with such risk. It is to be an “evolving document” as it is will be updated periodically.

For more information, see Department of Finance (Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Terrorism Financing).  

Information for solicitors about Registers of Beneficial Owners of Companies and Trusts

The Fourth and Fifth Money Laundering Directives require Member States to maintain registers recording the beneficial owners of companies and trusts. When fully transposed, companies and trustees will be required to register information about their beneficial owners with the Companies Registration Office (the CRO’) (in the case of companies) and the Revenue Commissioners (the ‘RC’) (in the case of trusts).  A variety of complex statutory instruments are required to introduce these registers into Ireland.

Ultimately, the requirement to gather and register beneficial ownership information rests with the entity (the trust or the company) to whom a solicitor provides legal services. To simplify this complex subject, the Law Society has developed an interactive one-page Infographic which visualises the incremental process required to establish registers of beneficial ownership in Ireland.  As work progresses to establish the registers, the Law Society will update the Infographic to include hyperlinks to new resources. As of September 2019 the status is as follows:

Companies

The central/national register of beneficial owners of companies was established on 29 July 2019 and companies have until 22 November 2019 to comply (see Infographic Phase 2 for Companies).  While solicitors cannot incorporate, those wishing to learn more about the register, in terms of the advice they might provide client companies, will find helpful links to CRO resources and contact details in the Infographic.  The Society’s Business Law Committee has also made a submission to the CRO.  

Trusts

A central/national register of beneficial owners of trusts has not yet been established and trustees should, for the time being, hold this information on internal registers (see Infographic Phase 1 for Trusts). In due course, following the publication of a draft SI to introduce a central/national register of beneficial owners of trusts, it is anticipated that the Revenue Commissioners will produce information/FAQs similar to that available for the companies register of beneficial owners.

Sanctions & High Risk Jurisdictions

Sanctions Lists

For useful information about financial sanctions, visit the Central Bank of Ireland website.

The Central Bank also provides frequent financial sanctions updates under Financial Sanctions Updates - the most recent updates appear under its 'What's New' section.

High Risk Jurisdictions lists

Visit the sites below for more information:

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AML eZine articles, Bulletins and Gazette articles

  • October 2016 eZine - The Law Society published information regarding the introduction of SI No. 533 of 2016 in October concerning solicitors’ statutory anti-money laundering (AML) obligations: Solicitors (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Regulations 2016. The 2016 Statutory Instrument was replaced by new Regulations, effective 1 November 2020.
  • June 2016 Gazette - A reminder article about the risk of committing the offence of money laundering was published in the June 2016 Gazette: En Garde
  • May 2016 eZine - A fraud warning was published in the Law Society Legal eZine in May 2016: AML: Fraud Warning
  • March 2016 Gazette - An article about terrorist financing can be found in the March 2016 Gazette: Show me the money
  • January/February 2016 Gazette - A practice note was published regarding the memorandum of understanding between the Law Society and the Department of Justice and Equality in relation to trust and company legal services: Anti-money-laundering and trust and company services
  • January 2016 eZine - Information about the new CPD Regulations (which incorporate a new AML CPD requirement) was published in early 2016: New Year - New CPD Regulations
  • March 2013 eZine - The Law Society published information reminding solicitors of the fact there is no exemption for existing clients since July 2010 as follows: AML – No exemption for existing clients

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Client Care leaflet

The Law Society's Client Care leaflet about solicitors' obligations under anti-money laundering legislation may assist solicitors when explaining to clients that they are subject to statutory AML obligations:

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Contact us

Do not hesitate to contact the Society for assistance when interpreting your AML obligations. While we cannot provide you with legal advice, we will endeavour to help you navigate your way through best practice principles. 

Practitioners can contact a member of the Policy Development team at aml@lawsociety.ie

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