A British lawyer and Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) has been found guilty of "tipping off" a client regarding a money laundering investigation conducted by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). William Osmond, the co-founder of Osmond & Osmond Solicitors Ltd, was convicted of disclosing confidential information about the investigation and forging a document to mislead investigators.
The Serious Fraud Office emphasized that solicitors have a legal obligation not to share details of money laundering investigations involving their clients. As the acting MLRO for Osmond & Osmond Solicitors, Osmond was expected to report any suspicions of money laundering to the authorities.
The investigation revealed that a Mayfair property, purchased by Osmond's client James Redding Ramsay for £4 million in 2018, was at the center of the case. Upon learning of the investigation, Osmond promptly contacted his client and engaged in discussions over the next five months. This included a meeting at Ramsay's home in Malta and another at a private dining club in West London.
To deceive investigators, Osmond provided the SFO with a fraudulent "Letter of Engagement" in response to their inquiry. The letter outlined his role as a solicitor for a British Virgin Islands company used by Mr. Ramsay to acquire the London property.
In 2019, the SFO investigators searched Osmond's office, uncovering five pages of handwritten notes detailing his discussions with Ramsay and computer records confirming the forgery. The Old Bailey criminal court is set to sentence Osmond for the offense on November 30.
The case underscores the serious nature of breaching confidentiality in money laundering investigations, especially when individuals in positions like MLROs are expected to adhere to legal obligations and report suspicions promptly. Osmond's conviction reflects the legal consequences for professionals who compromise the integrity of such investigations.
By fLEXI tEAM