Understanding the role of the lawyer in the cause and effect of money laundering within the legal profession

  • Joanne Carol Cracknell

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Money laundering is a problem throughout the world. It is a strategic threat to the global economy and has a substantial human cost with laundered proceeds of crime associated with drug importation, child sexual exploitation, human trafficking and with links to terrorist funding. Despite more legislation, the strengthening of the regulatory framework and the granting of greater powers to law enforcement agencies, money laundering continues to plague economies and imposes a significant threat to the reputation of the legal profession.
This study takes a new approach by considering the issue of the legal profession’s vulnerability to money laundering and the complicity or otherwise of the legal profession through a practitioner’s lens, by examining more closely the role of the regulator, the impact and effect of money laundering regulation has on lawyers and the relationships between the triumvirate of law enforcement agencies, the regulator and law firms.
This study reports findings from a mixed-methods research, which consisted of semi structured interviews conducted with key stakeholders in the legal profession and the quantitative method via an online questionnaire targeting a sample of money laundering reporting officers at law firms in England and Wales, as a well as a close examination of thematic reviews and risk outlook reports produced by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and a review of the disciplinary proceedings brought against legal professionals.
It finds a disconnect between the "triumvirate" with conflicting aims and a cultural divide through lack of understanding created by viewing money laundering through different lenses, especially around the issue of reporting suspicions. Finally, the study makes suggestions as to how these impediments could be addressed to facilitate a stronger and more effective system to combat the devastating crime of money laundering, through greater collaboration, sharing of information and increased inspections by regulators, especially
Date of AwardSept 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorBranislav Hock (Supervisor) & Christopher Gray Lewis (Supervisor)

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