The news items and other information on this site do not purport to be comprehensive or to give legal or professional advice. cpm21 does not provide legal advice. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, neither cpm21, its owners, employees, associates, collaborators, agents or trainers can be held liable for any errors or omissions or inaccuracies contained within each communication, on its website, or in articles, tweets, posts or blogs on social networking sites. Readers should not act upon (or refrain from acting upon) information provided without first taking further specialist or professional advice. cpm21.

Anti-Money Laundering and Diversity - what you should be doing now

(A Welsh Language version of this article follows the English language version.)

Issue 92 of the SRA’s Compliance Bulletin would have appeared in Solicitor Firms’ email inboxes last week, and there were some warnings of what is to come from the SRA over the coming year.

One of the first things to notice was in their first article;

“Have your say on our 2021-22 plans”

This article is in respect of the regulator’s consultation on its 2021 – 2022 business plan which covers 5 key areas of work. Two of these catch the eye;

  • evaluating our ongoing reform programmes, including the Standards and Regulations and Transparency Rules
  • increasing monitoring of anti-money laundering arrangements

In terms of the reform programmes, the Transparency Rules are already being evaluated by the SRA carrying out audits of solicitor firms’ websites to monitor compliance with the rules, but also by asking firms who don’t have a website what they are doing to comply with the rules. For the latter, some of whom may have decided to abandon a website to avoid being caught by the rules, many are getting a rude awakening when they discover that they do have to comply with them if they provide the services covered by them, even though they don’t have a website.

Readers of the Law Society Gazette will also note that fines have been issued to firms who do not comply, so our first recommendation in this article is for firms who may have thought the rules didn’t apply to them, or even for firms who have complied – review the rules now, and where it appears there is non-compliance, act now and avoid a fine.

The SRA Transparency Rules do contain guidance and templates that can help.

While that is the case now however, the next question would be - is that all the SRA will be evaluating?

The initial consultation on this subject included other categories of law such as Family that didn’t make the first edition of end rules, but with an “evaluation” who knows what the SRA will decide next?

MONEY LAUNDERING COMPLIANCE

Next, we turn to the stated objective of increasing monitoring of anti-money laundering arrangements. This is already happening with desktop audits taking place of solicitor firms’ Practice Wide Risk Assessments (PWRA), Policies Controls and Procedures (PCPs) and internal file audits to evidence compliance. Where firms are found to be “wanting” in regard to this, they are referred on for further investigation….

That is already happening.

But remember this objective is “increasing” monitoring, so firms can probably expect on site audits later in the year, given the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

And of course, there is an added major complication…

The new 212 pages of the Legal Sector Affinity Group guidance on Anti-Money Laundering is due to be ratified by HM Treasury at any point now. Anyone who has read this guidance will be struck immediately at how much more is expected of solicitor firms in combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. For those readers who are Money Laundering Reporting Officers (MLROs) or Money Laundering Compliance Officers (MLCOs), this guidance is going to make the roles far more difficult in order to comply. So our next recommendation is that if you are the MLRO or MLCO, you really need to familiarise yourself with what is expected and act now to ensure your PWRAs, PCPs are up to date, and that the relevant personnel in the firm have had training to ensure they understand what is expected in what will be a far harsher regulatory regime for Money Laundering than anything seen before.

DIVERSITY DATA SURVEY 2021

Our final take-away from the Compliance Bulletin was the SRA’s announcement regarding their biennial diversity data collection exercise. This features in both the “General Updates” section, and the “Compliance” Section of the Bulletin. In the General Updates section, this refers to individual solicitors updating their diversity data via their MySRA page by the 31st of May 2021.

The Compliance section deals with the firm’s reporting of diversity data. It asks firms to start collecting data now and provides a link to a diversity data collection form which can be used. Note – the form is not the same as previous versions as there are changes to the questions, so don’t use any old versions. The other point the SRA make is that firms should encourage their personnel to answer the questionnaire (which is not compulsory).

A lot of personnel in firms find the questions intrusive and don’t like to complete them, but we would echo the SRA’s encouragement for them to be completed. This is because decisions are made by the SRA on this collected data, and if a large section of the solicitor firm “population” don’t provide responses, then erroneous conclusions can be made. These erroneous conclusions then drive policy decisions for the Regulator, which may have a dramatic effect on the profession.

There is no current timetable for the submission of the firm’s diversity data, the SRA simply state that firms will be asked to report data in the summer of 2021, but it’s a good idea to send forms out now with a deadline for personnel to complete and return them.

As usual, if firms need help with AML compliance, SRA AML audit results or Collecting and Analysing your Diversity Data, then contact a cpm21 consultant to see how we can help.

Gwrth-Gwyngalchu Arian ac Amrywiaeth - beth ddylech chi fod yn ei wneud nawr...

Byddai Rhifyn 92 o Fwletin Cydymffurfiaeth yr SRA wedi ymddangos ym mlychau derbyn e-bost Cyfreithwyr Cwmnïau yr wythnos diwethaf, a chafwyd rhai rhybuddion o'r hyn sydd i ddod o'r SRA dros y flwyddyn i ddod.

Un o'r pethau cyntaf i hysbysiad a oedd yn y ir cyntaf erthygl;

“Dweud eich dweud ar ein cynlluniau 2021-22”

Mae'r erthygl hon yn ymwneud ag ymgynghoriad y rheolydd ar ei gynllun busnes 2021 - 2022 sy'n ymdrin â 5 maes gwaith allweddol. Mae dau o'r rhain yn dal y llygad;

  • gwerthuso ein rhaglenni diwygio parhaus, gan gynnwys y Safonau a Rheoliadau a Rheolau Tryloywder
  • monitro cynyddol o drefniadau gwrth-wyngalchu arian

O ran y rhaglenni diwygio, mae'r Rheolau Tryloywder eisoes yn cael eu gwerthuso gan yr SRA sy'n cynnal archwiliadau o wefannau cwmnïau cyfreithwyr i fonitro cydymffurfiad â'r rheolau, ond hefyd trwy ofyn i gwmnïau nad oes ganddynt wefan beth y maent yn ei wneud i gydymffurfio gyda'r rheolau. Ar gyfer yr olaf, efallai y bydd rhai ohonynt wedi penderfynu rhoi'r gorau gwefan i osgoi cael eu dal gan y rheolau, mae llawer yn cael deffroad anghwrtais pan fyddant yn darganfod bod oes rhaid iddynt gydymffurfio â hwy os bydd y y ddarparu'r gwasanaethau a gwmpesir ganddynt, hyd yn oed er nad oes ganddyn nhw wefan.

Bydd darllenwyr y Law Society Gazette hefyd yn nodi bod dirwyon wedi'u rhoi i gwmnïau nad ydynt yn cydymffurfio, felly mae ein hargymhelliad cyntaf yn yr erthygl hon ar gyfer cwmnïau a allai fod wedi meddwl nad oedd y rheolau yn berthnasol iddynt, neu hyd yn oed ar gyfer cwmnïau sydd wedi cydymffurfio - adolygwch y rheolau nawr, a lle mae'n ymddangos bod diffyg cydymffurfio, gweithredwch nawr ac osgoi dirwy.

Mae Rheolau Tryloywder yr SRA yn cynnwys arweiniad a thempledi a all helpu.

Er bod hynny'n wir nawr fodd bynnag, y cwestiwn nesaf fyddai - a fydd yr SRA i gyd yn gwerthuso?

Roedd yr ymgynghoriad cychwynnol ar y pwnc hwn yn cynnwys categorïau eraill o gyfraith fel Teulu na wnaeth y rhifyn cyntaf o reolau terfynol, ond gyda “gwerthusiad” pwy a ?yr beth fydd yr SRA yn ei benderfynu nesaf?


CYDYMFFURFIO ARIANNU ARIAN

Nesaf, trown at yr amcan a nodwyd nesaf o gynyddu monitro trefniadau gwrth-wyngalchu arian . Mae hyn eisoes yn digwydd gydag archwiliadau bwrdd gwaith yn digwydd o gwmnïau cyfreithwyr ' Arfer Eang Risg Asesiadau (PWRA), Polisïau a Gweithdrefnau Rheolaethau (PCPs) a mewnol ffeil adolygiadau archwiliadau i gydymffurfio tystiolaeth. Pan ganfyddir bod cwmnïau “eisiau” mewn perthynas â hyn, cyfeirir atynt i ymchwilio ymhellach….

Mae hynny'n digwydd eisoes.

Ond cofiwch fod yr amcan hwn yn “cynyddu” monitro, felly mae'n debyg y gall cwmnïau ddisgwyl archwiliadau ar y safle yn ddiweddarach yn y flwyddyn, o ystyried codi cyfyngiadau cloi.

Ac wrth gwrs, mae cymhlethdod mawr ychwanegol…

Disgwylir i'r 212 tudalen newydd o ganllaw Gr?p Affinedd y Sector Cyfreithiol ar Wrth-Gwyngalchu Arian gael eu cadarnhau gan Drysorlys EM ar unrhyw adeg nawr. Bydd unrhyw un sydd wedi darllen y canllaw hwn yn cael ei daro ar unwaith faint yn fwy a ddisgwylir gan gwmnïau cyfreithwyr wrth frwydro yn erbyn Gwyngalchu Arian a Chyllid Terfysgaeth. I'r darllenwyr hynny sy'n Swyddogion Adrodd Gwyngalchu Arian (MLROs) neu'n Swyddogion Cydymffurfiaeth Gwyngalchu Arian (MLCOs), mae'r canllaw hwn yn mynd i wneud y rolau llawer anoddach er mwyn cydymffurfio. Felly ein hargymhelliad nesaf yw, os mai chi yw'r MLRO neu'r MLCO, mae gwir angen i chi ymgyfarwyddo â'r hyn a ddisgwylir a gweithredu nawr i sicrhau bod eich PWRAs, PCPau yn gyfredol, a bod y personél perthnasol yn y cwmni wedi cael hyfforddiant i sicrhau eu bod yn deall yr hyn a ddisgwylir yn yr hyn a fydd yn drefn reoleiddio lawer llymach ar gyfer Gwyngalchu Arian nag unrhyw beth a welwyd o'r blaen.


AROLWG DATA AMRYWIAETH 2021

Ein tecawê olaf o'r Bwletin Cydymffurfiaeth oedd cyhoeddiad yr SRA ynghylch eu hymarfer casglu data amrywiaeth bob dwy flynedd. Mae hyn i'w weld yn yr adran “Diweddariadau Cyffredinol”, ac yn Adran “Cydymffurfiaeth” y Bwletin. Yn yr adran Diweddariadau Cyffredinol, mae hyn yn cyfeirio at gyfreithwyr unigol yn diweddaru eu data amrywiaeth trwy eu tudalen MySRA, mae rhaid neud hynny erbyn y 30ed o Mai.

Mae'r adran Cydymffurfiaeth yn delio ag adroddiadau'r cwmni ar ddata amrywiaeth. Mae'n gofyn i gwmnïau ddechrau casglu data nawr ac yn darparu dolen i ffurflen casglu data amrywiaeth y gellir ei defnyddio. Sylwch - nid yw'r ffurflen yr un peth â fersiynau blaenorol gan fod newidiadau i'r cwestiynau, felly peidiwch â defnyddio unrhyw hen fersiynau. Y pwynt arall y mae'r SRA yn ei wneud yw y dylai cwmnïau annog eu personél i ateb yr holiadur (nad yw'n orfodol).

Mae llawer o bersonél mewn cwmnïau o'r farn bod y cwestiynau'n ymwthiol ac nad ydyn nhw'n hoffi eu cwblhau, ond byddem yn adleisio anogaeth yr SRA iddynt gael eu cwblhau. Mae hyn oherwydd bod yr SRA yn gwneud penderfyniadau ar y data hwn a gasglwyd, ac os nad yw rhan fawr o “boblogaeth” y cwmni cyfreithwyr yn darparu ymatebion, yna gellir dod i gasgliadau gwallus. Yna mae'r casgliadau gwallus hyn yn gyrru penderfyniadau polisi ar gyfer y Rheoleiddiwr, a allai gael effaith ddramatig ar y proffesiwn.

Nid oes amserlen gyfredol ar gyfer cyflwyno data amrywiaeth y cwmni, mae'r SRA yn nodi'n syml y gofynnir i gwmnïau adrodd ar ddata yn ystod haf 2021, ond mae'n syniad da anfon ffurflenni allan nawr gyda dyddiad cau i bersonél eu llenwi a dychwelwch nhw.

Fel arfer, os bydd angen cwmnïau help gyda unrhyw beth a grybwyllir AML com pliance, canlyniadau archwiliadau SRA AML neu Casglu a Dadansoddi eich Data Amrywiaeth yn yr erthygl hon, yna cysylltwch ymgynghorydd cpm21 i weld sut y gallwn eich helpu.