Mishcon De Reya Hit With Record Fine as Law Firm Pursues IPO
(Bloomberg) -- Mishcon de Reya LLP, known for its legal work advising Princess Diana in her divorce, was hit with a record fine for anti-money laundering failings, as the firm gears up for its initial public offering early this year.
The law firm will pay 232,500 pounds ($314,500) to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the largest penalty ever imposed as part of a settlement agreement. The firm lost hard copies of background documents for two clients and advised on deals that had a “higher risk of money laundering or terrorist financing,” the SRA said in statement.
Mishcon is working on plans for a London listing as soon as this quarter, in an IPO that could make it the largest publicly-traded law firm in the U.K. The firm, smaller than London’s best known “Magic Circle” firms, has a storied past. Founded just before World War II, it represented Gina Miller in two Supreme Court cases that challenged the government’s Brexit plans.
The London-based firm said it had cooperated with the SRA throughout its investigations and qualified for a 40% reduction in the size of the penalty. “The corrective action we have taken since to prevent a recurrence have been recognized by the SRA in reaching this outcome,” the firm said in a statement.
Mishcon allowed a client account to be used as a banking facility, making payments each of around 1 million pounds into and out of an account in 2016. The payments weren’t connected to the underlying legal transaction, the SRA said. It separately investigated a series of three property deals.
The firm, which hired JPMorgan Chase & Co., expects a valuation of more than 600 million pounds, a person familiar with the matter said in April.
With an IPO, Mishcon would be the largest of a small number of publicly traded law firms including Manchester-based DWF Group Plc, which has a market capitalization of around 368 million pounds.
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