Tackling the weak links in AML supervision

In the accountancy sector, unqualified accountants who have a duty to report suspicious activity but aren’t members of a professional body are some of the weakest links in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. These unqualified accountants often sit on the perimeter of the profession with their AML activities supervised and monitored by HMRC, an organisation that we know is subject to significant resource constraints.

I therefore find it hugely surprising that Government is not only proposing to focus the activities of the new Office for Professional Body AML Supervision (OFBAS) on professional body supervisors such as ICAEW – but is excluding public sector supervisors such as HMRC from its remit.

This is not just fundamentally wrong. It could have the unintended consequence of qualified accountants resigning from their professional bodies because of the additional regulatory burdens and costs being placed on them. Or it could push their clients towards unregulated or unqualified providers because they don’t have the same level of supervision. Either way, such an approach, further distorts rather than levels the playing field.

All of us in the accountancy profession are right behind the need to crack down on money laundering and what it is funding – from organised crime through to terrorism. We recognise we play a crucially important role in identifying suspicious activity, reporting it and helping law enforcement agencies identify and capture those responsible. I believe our members undertake this work thoroughly – but If we need to change our approach, we will do so, working in partnership with OFBAS.

However if OFBAS is to make a real difference, it must have oversight of all private and public sector supervisors – and must focus the majority of its efforts on the weakest links in the chain..

  • Please can you provide a link to OFBAS proposals

  • Why do we need OFBAS when we all send AML reports to NCA where they seem to go into a black hole. I know that many of my peers in practice are meticulous, as I am about reporting any reasonable suspicion of ML - the reports and making sure staff are aware of the requirements are already an overhead, yet the reports seem to go nowhere leaving fraudsters to continue their frauds. I have no doubt whatsoever that at least some of the people I have reported are still carrying on oblivious, I almost feel they have nothing to fear.         The last thing we need is more regulation, it will just add to cost, get people's backs up even more (my blood boils at how pointless those reports seem, as I make them), and cost even more and confuse people, it will probably REDUCE compliance it anything. Thanks for raising it and I hope we will resist it very strongly. We have a charter provision to be independent, we can't be independent if the government keeps piling useless regulations on top of ones that already seem not to work well.