CORPORATE , LEGAL & ACCOUNTANCY
The report by the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) on 12 March 2019 found that Professional bodies representing the accountancy and legal sectors are riven with conflicts of interest and loath to publish money laundering penalties.
OPBAS was set up last year intended to “supervise the supervisors” of the accountancy and legal professions.
Earlier we heard from the Treasury select committee who said it is unclear why OPBAS only supervises the professional body AML supervisors and not the statutory ones. To ensure consistency across all AML supervisors the statutory bodies should be included under OPBAS’s remit.
They are calling for the government to do more to tackle economic crime, saying the anti-money laundering (AML) regime should be strengthened, with proposals including introducing corporate liability legislation, reforms to Companies House, which is not required to carry out any AML checks. The committee says this makes it a weakness in the UK’s system for preventing economic crime, and recommends the government urgently consider giving it the powers to ensure that it plays no role in helping those undertaking economic crime.
Another proposal is to remove HMRC’s responsibility for AML supervision. The committee said there was an argument in favour of this, as it would allow HMRC to concentrate on core tasks and would also address concerns about whether HMRC’s approach to its supervisory responsibilities may be unduly influenced by its role as a tax authority.
The Treasury select committee also suggested that more emphasis should be placed on solicitors as they will often assess the source of a customer’s funds.