The latest EU directive which is still relevant to the UK despite Brexit has stated that accountants should not assume being confirmed and must pay detailed attention to AML or be faced with serious consequences. They are advised not to rely on their professional body as AML supervision but should also be aware of how 5MLD can affect them as accountants. OPBAS, the body that regulates UK’s AML supervisory regime while investigating 22 professional bodies on their AML advice to accountants, using 8 key areas of governance, risk-based approach, supervision, information sharing, guidance for members and staff competence, enforcement and record-keeping, and quality assurance as focus found out that only one professional body passed all the eight areas. OPBAS found that 80 percent of professional bodies didn’t have suitable governance arrangements for AML supervision.
HMRC itself provides a paid-for anti-money laundering supervision service, which could be office-based compliance checks, but may also mean a visit and inspection. It is worth noting that even if you sign up for the HMRC service, the responsibility still sits with you to follow the advice and the same fate would await you for non-compliance as any other accountant. While OPBAS reported some professional bodies were worried about losing members through enforcement, they can’t afford to fall foul of the FCA or damage their reputation with poor vigilance. The key details of 5MLD that needs to be taking into cognizance are: Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD), Trust Registration Service (TRS) and Beneficial Ownership (BO).
Reports have it that organized crime enabled by money laundering costs the UK £37bn every year and £90bn is illegally laundered through Companies House registered shell firms. Further evidence of how seriously AML compliance needs to be taken by accountants comes from The Financial Conduct Authority and The National Crime Agency. The FCA says that both lawyers and accountants are “at high risk of enabling money laundering through the UK’s financial system.”