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BMA fines Conyers $2.1 million

Paying the penalty: law firm Conyers has been fined by the BMA

A leading Bermuda law firm has been hit with fines of $2.1 million for failing to comply with anti-money laundering regulations.

Conyers Trust Company (Bermuda) Limited – a division of law firm Conyers, formerly known as Conyers Dill and Pearman – was fined $1,118,500 “for historic failures to adequately comply with the Trusts Act and the Proceeds of Crime (Anti-Money Laundering & Anti-Terrorist Financing) Regulations”.

A second CD&P entity, Conyers Corporate Services (Bermuda) Limited, was given a civil penalty of $981,000 for breaches of the same regulation.

The penalties were imposed by the Bermuda Monetary Authority and posted on its website.

In a statement, the BMA said: “The company is licensed to conduct trust business by the Authority. Following on-site inspections conducted in late November 2017 (AML/ATF) and August 2018 (Prudential), the authority identified a number of deficiencies relating to the Company’s AML/ATF programme and the company’s obligations under the Trusts Act and the regulations.”

The statement said that Conyers had failed to comply with customer due diligence, ongoing monitoring, periodic reviews, enhanced due diligence, an independent audit, and training.

It added: “With respect to the Trusts Act and specifically the minimum criteria for licensing, failings were identified with respect to the following requirements: corporate governance policy; business to be conducted in a prudent manner; and notification of change of controller.

“The authority required all of these deficiencies to be rectified by December 2019. While the company made considerable progress in concluding its remediation in that time frame, the authority noted a number of deficiencies were not remediated to its satisfaction by December 2019.

“Despite this delay, the company has complied with the authority’s directions in a timely manner throughout the entire remediation process.

“This matter highlights the importance of licensees having up-to-date AML/ATF policies and procedures in place which are appropriate, effective, and fully implemented in order to avoid the risk of financial products or legal structures being used as a vehicle for money laundering or terrorist financing.”

A spokeswoman for Conyers said: “We have nothing further to add to the press release from our regulator beyond stating that our trust and corporate services companies respect our regulator’s diligence in seeking to maintain the highest international compliance standards.”

In August, 2021 reinsurance firm Allianz Life Bermuda was fined $1.7 million by the BMA for “significant breaches of the Proceeds of Crime (Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing) Regulations 2008, International Sanctions Regulations 2013 (Sanctions) and longstanding and persistent breaches of the Insurance Act”.

In 2019, Estera, the former corporate services arm of law firm Appleby, was fined $500,000 for similar deficiencies to Conyers, which it said occurred before it was bought out by its management.