Accountancy bodies ramp up anti money laundering oversight

Regulatory bodies, including HMRC, ICAEW and ACCA, have identified 42 businesses as having potential compliance failings in customer checks, record keeping and identifying risk

This is part of a week-long targeted push to identify money laundering activity spearheaded by the National Economic Crime Centre (NECC), which brought together regulators in the legal, finance and property sectors to make sure businesses’ supervisory systems to identify potential money laundering activity were fully up to scratch.

A total of 250 visits and compliance reviews were carried out, which will be followed up with assessments or disciplinary action in some cases. Regulators are continuing to analyse the visit reports to identify any further breaches.

The NECC is also in the process of referring three suspected professional enablers to regulatory bodies in connection with on-going investigations into illicit finance.

Regulators and supervisors, who also included the Gambling Commission, International Association of Bookkeepers, Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA), Law Society, Law Society of Scotland, Law Society of Northern Ireland (LSNI) and Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA), all upped their usual activity last week.

 Rick Kent of the NECC said: ‘As outlined in the NCA’s national strategic assessment launched earlier this week, regulators and supervisors are vital to our work to stop those who undermine the UK’s economy, integrity, infrastructure and institutions through their criminality.

‘Virtually all high-end money laundering schemes, and several cash based ones, are facilitated by the abuse of legitimate processes and services. This work with regulators helps protect victims, organisations and systems from the harms of serious and organised crime.

‘The particular aim of the week has been to further strengthen our co-ordinated approach. The NECC is able to unite organisations to make the UK a hostile environment for money laundering.’

Simon York, director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said: ‘Businesses in the accountancy, legal and property sectors need to understand that criminals prey on weaknesses, so it’s vital they take all steps to protect themselves.

'The money laundering regulations are key to that, but there’s still a minority of businesses who ignore their legal obligations. These inspections are a wake-up call that if you continue to trade illegally we will come knocking.’

Pat Sweet

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