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New anti-money laundering watchdog created

21 March 2017

A new watchdog has been set up to help close any loopholes used by criminals to launder their dirty money in the UK.

The Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (phew!), or OPBAS to you and me, will sit within the Financial Conduct Authority and should be up and running by the start of 2018.

The government wants the OPBAS to tackle the potential weaknesses in the supervisory system that it feels criminals and terrorists may be trying to exploit.

On top of the FCA, HMRC, the Gambling Commission and the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury there are another 23 anti-money laundering supervisory bodies, mostly accountancy and legal trade bodies.

The plan is for OPBAS to also complement the updated Money Laundering Regulations, which seek to bring the UKs Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Financing for Terrorism (CFT) regime into line with the latest international standards. HM Treasury said these regulations set out robust new standards of supervision, including the requirement of all supervisors to draw on common factors when developing their risk assessments, and maintain records of their investigations and decisions on disciplinary action.

It is being proposed that the new watchdog will have powers to fine supervisors if money laundering regulations are breached. Another of its tasks will be to simplify the anti-money laundering rules that apply to different industries.

The updated Money Laundering Regulations will also provide clarity for firms on how they should treat Politically Exposed Persons (PEPS).

OPBAS will be funded through a new fee on professional body AML supervisors and legislated for by the end of the year.

Q: Who are the accountancy/tax Anti-Money Laundering Supervisory Bodies?
A: AAT, ACCA, AIA, ATT, CIMA, CIOT, IAB, ICAEW, ICAI, ICAS, ICB & IFA.

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