Ever heard the phrase “money talks”?
Imagine if it actually did. The next time you paid cash for something and got your change, the coins could tell you about the thousands of people that used it before you. You’d hear good stories but also a few bad ones too.
Obviously coins can’t talk, but there are still times when we need to know where money has been and how the person with that money got hold of it.
If money changes hands sometimes organisations like banks need to make sure that it isn’t the proceeds of criminal activities like drug trafficking or terrorism. Criminals may try to ‘clean’ money or other things that they get from crimes in all sorts of ways, so it looks like they got hold of it in another way.
This is called money laundering. There are laws that make this illegal, as well as being involved in handling that type of money. Lots of businesses are covered by these laws.
You might find that if you use a lawyer for something like buying a house they ask for proof of where your money is coming from. They need to be sure that the money you provide isn’t proceeds from a crime. Law firms can be targets of criminals because if money passes through a law firm’s bank account it may appear to be from a legal source.
One of the legal regulators, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), is stepping up work in this area to make sure that law firms have the right systems to check money that they handle and to report their concerns about money laundering to the right authorities.
And until a time in the future when money really does start talking – you can find information about money laundering and what this means for law firms on the SRA’s website here.