LSK to self-regulate in war on dirty cash


From left: Law Society of Kenya CEO Florence Muturi, Eric Theuri (LSK President) and Faith Odhiambo (LSK Vice President) addressing journalists.

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has said that the deal signed with the State will see them self-regulate their members in the fight against money laundering but will keep the confidentiality of their clients.

Reacting to the Business Daily report on Wednesday, the LSK said the profession was bound by client-attorney privileges that seek to protect confidential information received from clients.

“The proposal made is to amend the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2009 and delete the provisions designating advocates as reporting agents as per the amendments done in 2021. Instead, the LSK be designated as a self-regulating body in line with the Financial Action Task Force standards for the protection of client-attorney privileges,” said LSK on X (formerly Twitter).

“The model protects any information received from clients in the process of establishing a client’s compliance with the law or advising clients whether he is in compliance with the law and litigation.”

Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) director-general Saitoti ole Maika told Parliament early this week that the State had reached an agreement with the lawyers’ body that would see advocates report clients involved in money laundering transactions.

“We have reached an agreement with the LSK that it shall be a self-regulatory organ and that lawyers will report on Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering,” Mr Maika had stated.

But the LSK said its self-regulatory role would only entail monitoring and ensuring compliance within its membership as opposed to lawyers snitching on their clients.

The argument from the lawyers’ body comes despite the approval of amendments to the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act in 2019 by the National Assembly to compel lawyers to start disclosing suspicious financial deals involving their clients.

At the time, the lawyers had moved to court seeking a repeal of the amendments with the argument that changes to the Act were harmful to practising advocates.

The FRC had told Parliament that it had signed a consent with the LSK that would see the latter withdraw a suit that has blocked the implementation of the new law.

The Anti-Money Laundering and Combating of Terrorism Financing (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which is currently before the National Assembly’s Finance and National Planning Committee, seeks to, among other things, empower the LSK to regulate, supervise and enforce compliance for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism among lawyers, notaries and other legal professions.

The LSK currently lacks the powers to supervise its members as far as combating money laundering and terrorism financing is concerned.

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