Anti-Money Laundering Compliance and COVID-19

May 21, 2020

Lawyers play a critical role in the fight against financial crimes, even during these challenging times. Offences for money laundering such as fraud, cybercrime, misuse and misappropriation of financial aid, exploitative schemes etc. could increase and the likelihood that the legal profession will be used as a conduit to launder funds may increase.

The Law Society’s temporary response to anti-money laundering compliance includes:

  • The Law Society has temporarily permitted the use of expired photo identification to complete verification. Lawyers were permitted to rely on driver’s licenses that expired on or after March 1, 2020, so that in-person visits to registration offices could be avoided. Albertans who had birthdays between March 17 and May 14, and whose licenses expired this year, had until May 15, 2020, to renew. Alberta driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations that expired prior to May 15 must now be renewed. Expired licenses may only be accepted until May 31, 2020, at which time the grace period will be over. Passport offices are not yet open for non-urgent passport renewals, and it is temporarily permitted to accept passports that expired after March 1, 2020, until further notice.
  • The Law Society will not require lawyers to verify the identity of a client by requiring the lawyer to be in the physical presence of the client. Face-to-face verification via video conference has been temporarily permitted. This is an interim measure and may not be continued after the current health crisis resolves.
  • Explore alternatives to traditional ID methods of verifying identity, such as the dual process or credit file methods. For more information about these methods, review the guidance document on the Law Society’s website.

We encourage the legal profession to be particularly vigilant and watch out for red flags. For more information on strategies for managing anti-money laundering risk please refer to the COVID-19 FAQs.