A solicitor, who was also a money laundering reporting officer (MLRO), has been fined £45,000 for failing to conduct anti-money laundering checks for wealthy clients believed to be linked to the Panama Papers scandal.
Khalid Mohammed Sharif, a partner at London-based Child & Child, was involved in the law firm’s establishment of an offshore company used to manage London properties worth almost £60 million for clients.
However, he failed to take any or adequate steps to ascertain if the clients were politically exposed persons (PEPs) or reportedly linked to the proceeds of crime, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) said.
The property owners are reported be the daughters of a central Asian head of state, however, Sharif did not conduct the necessary due diligence checks which would of likely revealed that they were PEPs.
Child & Child instructed law firm Mossack Fonseca to incorporate the company in the British Virgin Islands, according to the Guardian. Mossack Fonseca was the law firm central to the Panama Papers scandal, and has since shut down.
Last year, the SRA said Sharif had also failed to apply enhanced customer due diligence in respect of the clients, in a situation which presented a higher risk of money laundering, or “where the customer had not been physically present for identification purposes.”
In addition to the £45,000 fine, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ordered Sharif to pay costs of £40,000.