As we wrote in a recent blog on the topic of AML supervision, the report by OPBAS – the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision slates the accountancy and legal professions for lax regulation of their sectors.
Although this is a UK regulator , its views are influential with regulators elsewhere. For accountants there is likely to be a tougher enforcement approach taken in future as a result of this stinging report. OPBAS found that in 2018, only half of professional bodies issued fines for AML failings. It was even less in 2017 at 27%.
OPBAS has called for the Professional Body Supervisors (PBSs) to share information as a way of cracking down on covert activity. Almost half of the 22 bodies do that now, but OPBAS called for 100% cooperation by all bodies.
Some professional bodies have no resources allocated to intelligence sharing while others have no clear responsibilities or systematic approach to using intelligence to inform decisions or supervisory and enforcement work. There was also evidence that suspicious activity reports had not been raised by the PBSs when they should have been.
OPBAS has called on all PBSs to undertake risk-based supervision of the professions i.e. focused on the riskiest types of business or clients like tax, conveyancing, company formation. The watchdog says this must be properly resourced, with leadership from the top, and robust enforcement outcomes, along with a positive uptake in intelligence sharing.
Also watch out for our new fully updated AML Policies & Procedures Manual coming in June 2019 – fully updated for the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Acts, 2010 to 2018 which came into force on 26 November 2018.
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