We will ask you for your ID at the start of a transaction. We will undertake anti-money laundering checks when we act for you. This is is not because we are wicked creatures who want to make your life difficult and, unless it is a real belter, this is not a question of us wanting to have a good laugh at your passport photograph.
There are a number of good reasons for us undertaking identity checks on our clients, some of which are to do with protecting us as professionals but most of which are about protecting you. It came to my attention, quite early in my career, when I was working at a firm that still had a Criminal Practice (that is, we acted for people in criminal cases rather than us operating the Red Riding branch of the Mafia), that there were people out there who didn’t completely adhere to the rule of law.
Now mostly it was shoplifting, kerb crawling, taking vehicles without consent, murder and the occasional Piracy on the High Seas[i], but every now and then a fraud would crop up. Once you have seen the monstrous knots that a crime under the Fraud Act can tie people up in, you begin to have a very serious sense of how important it is to protect yourself and your clients from these risks. This means, at its most basic, making sure that we know that people are who they say they are and that their money is coming from a legitimate source.
If you want a more in-depth idea as to the “whys and wherefores” ask me. Otherwise, be assured that we have your best interests at heart, cough up your ID in the forms requested, and skip to the next article.
[i] This is no mean feat in landlocked West Yorkshire