Accountants are key gatekeepers for the financial system, facilitating vital transactions that underpin the UK economy. As such, they have a significant role to play in ensuring their services are not used to further a criminal purpose. As professionals, accountants must act with integrity and uphold the law, and they must not engage in criminal activity.
AIA supervises our practising members for the purposes of the Money Laundering Regulations 2017, where AIA is listed in schedule 1 as an approved supervisory body. In the Republic of Ireland AIA is a designated body under the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 as amended.
The Regulations aim to have the most appropriate and proportionate measures to deter, detect and disrupt money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The Regulations apply to all practising accountants, persons and firms providing ‘accountancy services’. Those offering accountancy services who are not supervised by an approved body will be breaking the law.
MONEY LAUNDERING DEFINED
Money laundering is defined very widely in UK law. It includes all forms of using or possessing criminal property (as well as facilitating the use or possession) regardless of how it was obtained. Criminal property may take any form, including: money or money's worth; securities; a reduction in a liability, and tangible or intangible property. Money laundering can involve the proceeds of offending in the UK but also of conduct overseas that would have been an offence had it taken place in the UK. There is no need for the proceeds to pass through the UK.
Money laundering activity can include: a single act (for example, possessing the proceed's of one's own crime); complex and sophisticated schemes involving multiple parties; multiple methods of handling and transferring criminal property; or concealing criminal property or entering into arrangements to assist others to conceal criminal property.
AIA members are explicitly required to:
- monitor and manage their own compliance with the 2017 Regulations; and
- make sure they are always familiar with the requirements of the 2017 Regulations to ensure continuing compliance.
MLR2017 requires all firms that provide accountancy services, trust or company services, or related services such as tax advice, audit or insolvency, to be supervised for compliance by one of the professional bodies listed in schedule 1 of the MLR2017 or HMRC.
AIA automatically supervises members under MLR2017. Members that provide trust or company services as part of their main accountancy practice will be supervised by AIA for all their work.
If a member has a group structure and has subsidiaries which are authorised firms under the Financial Services and Markets Act for FCA-authorised activities, AIA will supervise the non-FCA regulated work.
AIA adopts a risk-based approach to exercise its supervisory functions detailed in the MLR2017, which includes monitoring compliance of members with the MLR2017 by conducting desktop reviews, telephone interviews and monitoring visits.
AIA has a duty to cooperate with other supervisory authorities and law enforcement agencies to counter money laundering and terrorist financing.
AIA members should consider carefully whether they and/or their firms are within the scope of MLR2017 since the MLR2017 apply to different business sectors including accountants, financial service businesses, estate agents and solicitors. If you or your firm are operating in one of the business sectors within the scope of MLR2017 and you are not already supervised by a professional body or the FCA then you must register for supervision by HMRC. HMRC has further guidance on their website on AML registration.
If you or your firm are not already supervised by AIA please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
AIA recommends all practising members view and regularly review AML Guidance for the Accountancy Sector, which has been compiled in conjunction with other professional body supervisors and approved for use by HM Treasury. The guidance is addressed to all entities providing audit, accountancy, tax, insolvency or related services in the United Kingdom (including firms providing trust or company services) by way of business, irrespective of membership of a recognised professional body and sets out how to fulfil your regulatory requirements surrounding AML.
Members should regularly consult emerging information provided by the Financial Action Task Force, HM Treasury Office for Financial Sanctions Implementation, National Crime Agency and National Economic Crime Centre to stay updated on emerging risks.
Guidance on the legal requirements and best practice for submitting Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) is available here.
Events and online courses relating to AML are available here.
You can view further specific AML guidance, compliance checklists and templates in the Secure Documents Library by logging in to MyAIA.
FREE AMLCC SUBSCRIPTION
AIA recognises that compliance can be cumbersome. In addition to ensuring that our members have access to the most up-to-date guidance and advice, all AIA members holding a valid practising certificate receive a free subscription to AMLCC.
AMLCC subscription provides firms with the essential tools needed to assess their clients through online reporting and record keeping as well as train their staff, this in turn gives reassurance to the AIA that AIA registered firms are meeting their statutory obligations and incorporating best practice into their work.
For further details click here.
WORKING WITH REGULATORS AND THE ACCOUNTANCY PROFESSION
As an approved supervisory body under the MLR2017 AIA is regulated by the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS).
OPBAS is a regulator set up by the government to strengthen the UK’s AML supervisory regime and ensure the professional body AML supervisors provide consistently high standards of AML supervision.
AIA also works in the public interest as part of the Accountancy Affinity Group (AAG) working closely with HM Treasury, the Home Office and the National Crime Agency to represent members' views and to communicate up-to-date information and guidance back to you.
The AAG is a sub committee of the UK Anti-Money Laundering Supervisors Forum (AMLSF), a forum in which professional bodies work collaboratively to develop supervisory policy to promote consistency in standards and best practice and receive AML intelligence from law enforcement agencies and the government.
AIA works in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, regulators and other professional body supervisors to share intelligence and actively combat money laundering and terrorist financing through the Accountancy Sector Intelligence Sharing Expert Group (ISEWG).
If you come across an accountancy firm or trust and company service provider that is supervised by AIA and appears to be ignoring the regulations, you can report it confidentiality to us.
If information is provided to us on a confidential basis, we will take the appropriate steps to protect your identity.
If you come across an accountancy service provider (ASP), trust or company service provider (TCSP), high-value dealer or other firm that does not appear to be supervised under the MLR or appears to be ignoring the regulations you can also report this information.
See more information here.