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Five minutes on… Easing the Burden of International AML Checks in 2024

UK conveyancing firms and law firms are under ever greater scrutiny to carry out rigorous Anti-Money Laundering (AML) checks, and for good reason. According to Europol, 70% of criminal enterprises now use money laundering techniques to hide their ‘ill-gotten’ gains.

In response, the SRA has massively ‘upped the ante’ in the past 12 months, ramping up desk-based AML compliance assessments, resulting in record fines in 2024. So, the question is, what can you do to ease this burden on your business while ensuring consistent AML compliance when dealing with international clients? 

Enhanced AML checks for international clients 

One of the main challenges for conveyancers in 2024 is knowing exactly when to carry out enhanced AML checks for international clients and how to do so effectively and efficiently.  

Remember, you must complete EDD AML checks when dealing with a customer who is not physically present when carrying out ID checks (e.g. international clients), a ‘Politically Exposed Person’ (PEP) from a high-risk third country identified by the EU, or presents a higher risk of money laundering. 

What are the challenges of vetting international clients? 

Carrying out AML checks on international clients to the standard required by the SRA and CLC can be especially challenging, because: 

  • Your staff may never meet the client in person 
  • There may be language barriers 
  • Domestic checking processes, services and software may not work for clients in other countries, and 
  • It can be difficult to establish the Ultimate Business Owner (UBO), the Source of Funds (SOF) or if the person is a PEP or on a sanction list in another country. 

Due to these challenges, there is a high risk of wrongly identifying or failing to recognise an individual as a high AML risk.  

How can I ease the burden of international AML checks? 

Using systems and processes designed for a domestic clientele to deal with international clients is a risk to your business. Easing the burden of international AML checks requires ‘fit for purpose’ systems, processes, and training geared specifically to international clients.  

While your staff may be familiar with how to spot AML ‘red flags’ for domestic clients, they must also be trained on how to do this for international clients. Likewise, you must have AML conveyancing processes and workflows for onboarding and the ongoing monitoring of international clients. Remember that not all third-party AML services and software are capable of handling international client AML checks.  

Implementing an automated workflow AML solution that can handle both domestic and international clients is key to reducing the administrative burden and AML risk for your business. 

Introducing OneSearch AML for International clients 

OneSearch International AML with Facial Recognition is a new, easy-to-use technology solution for conveyancers with overseas clients which will easily integrate into your existing systems. OneSearch International AML with Facial Recognition provides: 

  • A combined digital ID verification and real-time facial recognition capable of dealing with clients in other jurisdictions 
  • International PEP and sanction screening using real-time information from over 350 datasets, including domestic and international government websites and public transparency projects.  
  • Adverse media screening 
  • Law enforcement and Special Interest Person (SIP) screening for international clients and 
  • Headshots for PEPs sourced from official international government websites to reduce false positives during the PEP screening process. 

Final words 

Without fit-for-purpose training, processes, and systems to deal with international clients, it is all too easy to miss money laundering red flags and risks, which can lead to fines and serious reputational harm. With OneSearch International AML, you can relax knowing that your firm is meeting its AML regulatory requirements, and any AML risks will be picked up early or at any point throughout the transaction.

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