It’s been a bad few days for Dentons, following the end of its Chinese-connection with Dacheng Law Offices has now joined Clyde & Co facing money laundering charges from the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
The two law firms face alleged offences spanning about four years. Investigators at the solicitors’ watchdog have published details of the prosecution of Clyde & Co, one of an elite band of specialist maritime and insurance firms in the Square Mile.
The charges against Denton about a fortnight ago saw the Solicitors Regulation Authority saying it was bringing a similar prosecution against the UK and Middle East offices of Dentons.
Dentons is accused of inadequately verifying the source of wealth and funds for a politically exposed individual and their associated entities.
Officials at the authority, which oversees 150,000 practising solicitors in England and Wales, said the allegations involving Clyde & Co related to “the firm’s handling of a number of matters on behalf of a client and companies used by the client”.
It is alleged that the firm’s activities regarding that client had involved a “failure to comply with anti-money laundering procedures . . . spanning a period of over four years”.
The watchdog confirmed that it was also prosecuting Edward Mills-Webb, a former partner at Clyde & Co. Mills-Webb has since moved to another City firm, Preston Turnbull, where he is described as specialising in “the international sale and movement of goods, finance, insurance and regulatory issues”.
Clyde & Co announced this month that its revenue had increased by 20 per cent over the past year to more than £788 million. It was the firm’s 25th consecutive year of growth, with annual profit rising by 6 per cent to more than £169 million.
Full equity partners made £708,000 each on average last year.
The watchdog provided more detail in the case, saying that the law firm was accused of failing “to take adequate measures to establish [a] client’s source of wealth and/or funds” while acting for “a politically exposed person or his associated entities”.
The alleged breaches were said to have occurred between 2013 and 2017 and Dentons is also accused of having “failed to comply with its legal and regulatory obligations, to run the business effectively in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles and failed to comply with anti-money laundering legislation”.
This month the firm blamed beefed-up Chinese data security and privacy laws for forcing it to quit the jurisdiction.
Responding to the prosecutions, Clyde & Co said that the firm had suspended Mills-Webb and had referred him to the watchdog. “We assisted the SRA fully with its investigations,” it said, adding: “We hold ourselves to the highest professional and ethical standards and take responsibility for ensuring we meet them, and we are reviewing these charges.”
Dentons said the firm had “co-operated fully with the SRA throughout this investigation, which relates to a former client, and we will continue to do so. As a firm we are committed to strict compliance with all laws, regulations and professional standards of the jurisdictions we operate in.”
Clyde & Co, a distinguished maritime and insurance law firm located in the Square Mile, has come under scrutiny by the solicitors’ watchdog. This elite firm, known for its specialized services, is now facing prosecution due to allegations of money laundering.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority, which oversees the conduct of solicitors in England and Wales, has recently disclosed details regarding this case. It is claimed that Clyde & Co’s actions are related to their handling of various matters on behalf of a client, along with entities associated with the client.
Money Laundering Protocols
These allegations revolve around the firm’s purported failure to adhere to anti-money laundering protocols, extending over a period of more than four years. Edward Mills-Webb, a former partner at Clyde & Co, is also facing legal action in connection with this case. He has since moved to Preston Turnbull, another law firm in the City, where he specializes in international trade, finance, insurance, and regulatory matters.
In a separate but similar case, the London and Middle East offices of Dentons, a globally recognized law firm, are also under investigation for alleged money laundering offenses.
The accusations against Dentons also extend to claims of failure to comply with legal and regulatory obligations, improper business governance, and inadequate adherence to anti-money laundering legislation.
This prosecution marks a challenging period for Dentons following its withdrawal from China as a result of enhanced Chinese data security and privacy laws.
In response to the allegations, Clyde & Co has taken action by suspending Mills-Webb and reporting the matter to the solicitors’ watchdog. The firm emphasized its commitment to upholding the highest professional and ethical standards and is currently reviewing the charges.
Dentons, on the other hand, has expressed full cooperation with the solicitors’ watchdog throughout the investigation.