When carrying out Anti-Money Laundering checks on clients, all regulated industries must identify PEPs and sanctioned individuals during onboarding, to comply with KYC and AML requirements.

In this post, we take a deep dive into what they are, who meets the criteria, and explore best practices for your firm, safeguarding you and your business from any financial or reputational perils.

What is a Politically Exposed Person?

A PEP is an individual who is or has been entrusted within a prominent public institution, making them susceptible to corruption. Under anti-money laundering legislation, if a client is identified as a PEP, enhanced due diligence (EDD) is required.

Who specifically classifies as a Politically Exposed Person?

Overall, the list of PEP individuals includes, but is not limited to, heads of states, heads of governments, ministers, MPs, members of high-level judicial bodies such as high courts, as well as family members and close business associates of all the above.

Based on Money Laundering Regulations and UK Government guidance, PEPs are listed into tiered categories depending on their role. For example, Heads of State and Government would be regarded as Tier 1 while mayors and members of local councils would be Tier 4. Under UK Government guidance the expectation is firms should be identifying Tier 1 & 2 PEPs as a minimum.

My firm has identified a PEP, should we cease working with them?

If your client has been flagged as a PEP, you should apply enhanced due diligence measures to the case. This will differ on a case-by-case basis, but this does not automatically mean you should cease business.

Law society guidance suggests you must:

  • Get senior management approval for the business relationship
  • Take adequate measures to establish the source of wealth and source of funds
  • Closely monitor the business relationship throughout

If you know or suspect a money laundering offence is taking place, you must make a disclosure to your firm’s money laundering reporting officer (MLRO).

What about Sanctions?

In addition to enhanced due diligence, all firms are also required to ensure they are not working with sanctioned individuals.

Sanctions and sanctions lists serve as a critical safeguard against financial crime. Businesses use sanctions checks to prevent themselves from getting involved with sanctioned entities. This way, businesses not only avoid the risk of non-compliance fines but also safeguard their reputation in the process. Conducting both PEP and sanction checks is crucial for businesses to minimize the chances of engaging with high-risk individuals or entities and to maintain a robust due diligence process.


Ready to put stronger AML practices in place for your conveyancing business?

Get in touch with our Service Introduction Team today to discuss your AML compliance needs!


In the ever-evolving world of Anti-Money Laundering (AML), ongoing monitoring plays a crucial role in mitigating risks and ensuring compliance. This is especially true in the realm of conveyancing, where large sums of money are changing hands.

This coffee-break article aims to shed light on ongoing monitoring in AML for conveyancing within England and Wales.

What is ongoing monitoring in AML for conveyancing?

Ongoing monitoring is the continuous process of identifying, assessing, and mitigating money laundering risks throughout the conveyancing transaction. It involves regular reviews of customer due diligence, monitoring transactions for suspicious activity, and reporting any concerns to the authorities.

How often should ongoing monitoring be done?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how often or how long you need to monitor your customers’ activity. Instead, regulations require ‘ongoing monitoring’ that adapts to each business relationship. This means regularly checking conveyancing transactions (and sometimes, where necessary, the source of funds) to see if they match your understanding of the customer, their business, and their risk level. Basically, the higher the risk, the deeper your ongoing monitoring should be.

We empower you to customize your monitoring for each customer, allowing you to focus on those who pose the highest risk.

When should ongoing monitoring take place?

Ongoing monitoring for AML in UK conveyancing should ideally happen throughout the entire client relationship, not just at the beginning.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Continual Basis: The Law Society recommends a system of file reviews or reminders to ensure ongoing monitoring is applied
  • High-Risk Clients: All clients should be monitored, but those identified as high-risk require enhanced due diligence and more frequent monitoring
  • Trigger Events: Specific situations can trigger the need for additional CDD checks, which essentially act as a form of ongoing monitoring. (Change of name, inconsistent transactions, reluctance to meet in person)

Why is ongoing monitoring important in conveyancing?

Conveyancing deals are particularly susceptible to money laundering due to the high transaction values and the involvement of various parties. Ongoing monitoring helps to:

  • Identify suspicious activity: By regularly reviewing transactions and customer information, red flags like large cash payments, unusual source of funds, or inconsistencies can be identified and investigated
  • Mitigate risks: Early detection of suspicious activity allows for taking timely action, such as seeking clarification from the customer, refusing the transaction, or reporting to the authorities
  • Demonstrating compliance: Robust ongoing monitoring demonstrates to regulators that firms are taking AML obligations seriously and have measures in place to combat financial crime

How can I implement ongoing monitoring in my conveyancing practice?

Here are some steps you can take:

  • Develop a risk assessment: Identify the ML risks specific to your practice and tailor your monitoring procedures accordingly
  • Train your staff: Ensure your staff is aware of their AML obligations and how to identify and report suspicious activity
  • Use technology: Consider using technology solutions to automate some aspects of monitoring, such as transaction monitoring and sanctions screening
  • Seek professional advice: Consult with an AML expert for guidance on implementing effective monitoring procedures

What are some resources available to help me with ongoing monitoring / AML?


Ready to put stronger AML practices in place for your conveyancing business?

Get in touch with our Service Introduction Team today to discuss your AML compliance needs!


Remote ID Verification is a method of confirming the identities of individuals such as clients or customers who are not physically present. Whereas antiquated methods of confirming identity required persons to be in the room as well as providing documents, the advancements of technology have meant authentication processes can now be carried out anywhere in the world.

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at a faster, more accurate and more secure form of identity verification, and break down what each component is, and how they all add up to make the AML biometric verification process so much easier.

It starts with liveness detection…

What is liveness detection?

In remote identity verification the use of liveness detection is critical in preventing presentation attacks or “spoofs”. Essentially, it is to make sure the individual carrying out the test is a) real, and b) who they say they are.

Common spoofs include:

  • Masks
  • Photographs or digital prints
  • Digital screens
  • Video playbacks

There are two forms of liveness detection; Active and Passive.

  1. Active Liveness, where a user is instructed to perform an action, such as blink, move your head from side to side, or smile.
  2. Passive liveness works unnoticed in the background without requiring any additional steps from the user. It includes use of AI technology and deep neural networks to detect spoofs.

As passive liveness requires no response from the user, it is often the case that they occur without the user being aware a liveness check is taking place, let alone what security mechanism is being used. This reduces the risk of fraudulent access and identity theft.

What other examples are there in life of passive lifeless tests?

You may start noticing passive liveness tests in more and more in everyday activities, from airport security to mortgage applications.

  • Facial recognition systems: Banks, airports, border control, and other security-sensitive applications
  • Remote document verification: Online onboarding for financial services, healthcare, and other sectors
  • Mobile authentication: Secure access to mobile apps and accounts

Passive liveness is a rapidly evolving technology with the potential to significantly enhance security and convenience in various applications.

Methods:

  • Document verification: Uploading scans or photos of government-issued IDs and comparing them to official databases
  • Facial recognition: Using a webcam or smartphone camera to capture a live image of the person and comparing it to the photo on their ID
  • Knowledge-based authentication: Asking the person security questions based on information they are likely to know
  • Third-party data verification: Checking the person’s information against public or private databases, with their consent

Ready to put stronger AML practices in place for your conveyancing business?

Get in touch with our Service Introduction Team today to discuss your AML compliance needs!


The first theme of National Conveyancing Week 2024 focuses on the exciting and untapped opportunity of material and up-front information to reduce transaction delays and drive efficiency in conveyancing.

There is no doubt that change is needed. Depending on who you speak to, transactions are currently taking place in the region of 20-22 weeks on average, and this is only increasing. In this article, we will ask whether the current transaction times are a matter of embarrassment and what is holding us back from leveraging material and upfront information in conveyancing.

A matter of embarrassment?

Those within the UK’s property sector are acutely aware of the protracted transaction times in 2024. The truth is that conveyancers are working harder than ever to achieve completion as early as possible. One recent opinion from within the industry has ruffled a few feathers. Ruth Beeton, co-founder of Home Sale Pack, is quoted as having stated:

“The UK boasts one of the strongest and most desirable property markets on the global stage, but despite our obsession with bricks and mortar, our protracted property transaction timeline is quite frankly embarrassing”.

This is an understandable point of view, but should we really be embarrassed?

Robin Wells, Head of Sales Operations for OneSearch, takes the view that transaction times are frustrating rather than embarrassing:

“Yes, it is frustrating. In 2011, 12 weeks was kind of the expected time for a standard residential conveyance to go through from notification to completion. I think we’re now looking at 20, 22 weeks”.

Elizabeth Jarvis, Managing Director of OneSearch, believes that there are some valid reasons for the length of completion times which are often overlooked:

“I think that it’s the fact that it’s [transaction times] increasing, which is uncomfortable to be in an industry where despite everybody’s best efforts, we can’t seem to get it together to get that back down to where it was a number of years ago. I know that there are some very valid reasons for it that there’s a lot more diligence, and things have crept into the process”.

This raises an important point; the increase in property transaction times, in part, is due to the greater lengths that conveyancers now go to protecting homebuyers and sellers and, ultimately, the reputation of the sector as a whole (i.e. due diligence checks, AML and KYC).
 

What will enable the proper adoption of upfront information?

One of the frustrations with the state of transaction times is that the promise of technology has not yet led to a wholesale improvement in the experience of property buyers and sellers. Elizabeth Jarvis believes that where upfront information has not taken hold in the past, there are now strong indications that technology will be a key enabler:

“I think now, from what I can see, is chinks of light where there is some better communication, and I think there’s a lot more general interest from the conveyancing sector in technology and re-looking at that technology which obviously is going to work a lot better now than when it was first conceived. I think, broadly speaking, we would all agree that the whole concept of having data upfront is a good one. There were reasons why it didn’t quite work the way it was hoped. But I think that it’s seen a return to that is happening”.

Elizabeth also takes the view that the key to making upfront information work and to bringing down transaction times is the use of technology to connect all stakeholders in the process:

“It’s no good to have upfront data if everybody in the process isn’t making use of it and they’re not speaking to each other. It’s the interconnectedness, the connectivity of people in the process working together with it”.

Final words

The fact that upfront data is first on the agenda for the National Conveyancing Week 2024 is extremely positive news for the UK’s conveyancing sector. What is now needed is for all senior stakeholders to come together to create a unified strategy for improved conveyancing efficiency using the latest technology as a foundation to enable the full use of material and upfront information. As Elizabeth Jarvis says, the good news is that there are strong signals that this is already happening.

OneSearch is delighted to be sponsoring the Conveyancing Firm of the Year North category at the 4th Annual British Conveyancing Awards, taking place in London on Tuesday 12th March.

The British Conveyancing Awards is about bringing people together and recognising the excellent firms and organisations who stand out from the rest. The event will additionally be live-streamed via the British Conveyancing Awards website.

Our Head of Sales Operations Robin Wells will be in attendance on the night to present the deserving firm with the award, and will be supported by his OneSearch colleague James Shepherd, as well as other representatives from the wider Landmark family.

Alongside OneSearch, our LIG sister companies are also presenting awards, including:

  • Conveyancing Firm of the Year South: Sponsored by SearchFlow
  • Conveyancing Firm of the Year Midlands: Sponsored by Ochresoft
  • Conveyancing Firm of the Year National: Landmark Information Group

On behalf of us all at OneSearch, we wish all the nominees the best of luck, and we look forward to seeing you on the night!

To find out more on the Awards, please click here.

Our latest Residential Market Research is now available.
 
Recently, Landmark interviewed 100 residential property solicitors and conveyancers in England, Scotland and Wales. We spoke to managing partners, heads of residential property law, fee earners, residential property solicitors and other directors. 

We gained invaluable insights into the residential property market, and it showed us what’s currently of concern to conveyancers and where they see future opportunities to help drive the success and profitability of their business. 

For example, within the last 12 months, incomplete information has meant our respondents have needed to raise enquiries in an average of 46% of cases, hence perhaps why 53% say having upfront information to assess the complexity of the work would have the biggest impact on profitability.

Find out your colleagues and client’s views on: 

  • The biggest impacts on conveyancing’s future success
  • The benefits of receiving data insights on the property and
  • location Frustrations with the transactional process

…and more!