Law firms ‘facing obstacles’

Picture: FILE.

LAW firms in the country face difficulties in complying with regulations and requirements set out by the Financial Intelligence Unit because of its “one size fits all” nature.

This was highlighted by Fiji Law Society Legislative Committee head Amini Vulaono during a submission to the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs on the Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit’s 2018 Annual Report.

“With compliance, why there is difficulty at the moment is that, all law firms no matter what size, the regulations and the compliance are the same,” he said.

“Apart from the FIU, law firms have to comply with the Legal Practitioners Unit, Fiji Revenue and Customs Service and the Reserve Bank.

“While a handful of big law firms may have the resources to allocate duties to individuals within their firm, a sole practitioner might not have this.

“There are difficulties but we would like to comply.

“There is difficulty in compliance because of resources, manpower and expertise within the firm.”

Mr Vulaono said they had identified a few weaknesses in the previous FIU report in terms of law firms not complying.

He called for guidance from the FIU.

“The unit can give us a standard form and a checklist which applies to every transaction a law firm receives.”

He said the FIU requirement for law firms to have a compliance officer to monitor whether they were complying with FIU requirements and policies was unrealistic.

“Most law firms are struggling.

“These are things the FIU should consider from the perspective of the law firms.”

He said the FIU requirement that law firms report every transaction above $10,000 was also a challenge.

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