The Code of Conduct for Notaries Public in Ireland obliges Notaries, as a matter of good practice, to establish the identity of all persons appearing before them to conduct notarial business. This duty is made a statutory obligation for Solicitors and Notaries under legislation enacted to outlaw money-laundering and the financing of terrorism. Furthermore, measures to prevent money-laundering and report suspicious transactions are imposed under the EU anti-money laundering directives and the relevant Irish implementing legislation (including the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010).
The Notary Public before whom a person appears to transact notarial business is obliged to obtain identification from the appearer and is entitled to request at least two of the following four forms of identity:-
The Notary must make, and retain on file for five years, a copy of any identification document produced to the Notary. On occasions, the Notary may request a letter of introduction from your solicitor.
As a notary we appreciate that information given to us, as indeed to all lawyers, carries a very high level of confidentiality. However, in certain circumstances, where a notary suspects that a transaction involving the acquisition or transfer of assets is ‘tainted’ i.e. the monies or assets being dealt with represent the proceeds of fraud, crime, tax evasion or terrorism, a legal obligation arises to report such suspicion to An Garda Síochána and to the Revenue Commissioners. For this reason, appearers should where appropriate be in a position to give satisfactory explanations to the notary as to the source of funds or assets involved in the notarial transaction so as to remove any suspicion which may otherwise arise. A letter from the appearer’s own solicitors or bankers or some other reputable institution may allay any fears that the assets may be ‘tainted’.
For the purposes of money-laundering legislation currently in force, the proceeds of crime include not only the proceeds of drug dealing, racketeering and terrorism, but also tax evasion, social welfare fraud and minor criminality. For example, the purchase of a foreign property with untaxed income or with social welfare or other benefits obtained unlawfully would be a ‘tainted’ asset and any transfer would amount to an offence of money-laundering. If any suspicion is aroused in connection with any such transaction an appropriate report will be made as set out above.
© 2019, Giuseppe Santoro