Government consultation open until midnight tomorrow (Wednesday).
ACCA has fundamental concerns regarding the government’s latest ‘Office for Professional Body AML Supervision’ proposals.
In March 2017, the government published a call for further information, in which it disclosed its plans to create a new oversight body called ‘the Office for Professional Body AML Supervision’ (OPBAS). ACCA has fully engaged with HM Treasury, and others, during the implementation of the Fourth Money Laundering Directive and, previously, during the process of the National Risk Assessment (NRA) carried out in 2015 and aspects of the action plan that followed the NRA. ACCA continues to engage with HM Treasury and other Anti-money laundering (AML) supervisors during the course of the second NRA (commenced in 2017) and the proposed creation and scoping out of OPBAS.
The UK is preparing itself for a Mutual Evaluation Review (MER) by the Financial Action Task Force, which will commence towards the end of 2017. ACCA is mindful of the importance of the MER to investment in the UK, and is striving to influence the government to bring about effective and proportionate measures that uphold the public interest while minimising the financial and regulatory burdens on practising members.
The 2015 NRA identified a lack of consistency in AML supervision as a key vulnerability in the AML infrastructure of the UK. ACCA supports the proposal of an oversight body, not only to address inconsistencies in standards of supervision, but to act as a conduit for the sharing of information and best practices. However, ACCA does not support the creation of OPBAS, with its limited range of oversight. ACCA responded accordingly to the March call for further information.
On 20 July 2017, HM Treasury issued a formal consultation on its Anti-money laundering supervisory review, accompanied by a set of draft regulations to establish powers of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which will host OPBAS. The consultation is open for only four weeks and closes at 11:59 on Wednesday 16 August. ACCA will be responding in a manner consistent with previous engagement.
Although the consultation document makes reference to some of the responses to the call for further information, it does not convey the strength of the concerns expressed by many of the professional body supervisors. These bodies share information through the Anti-money laundering Supervisors Forum, which has clearly expressed to HM Treasury its concern that the proposed scope of OPBAS oversight (which is only over the professional bodies, and so excludes HM Revenue and Customs – the default supervisor) will prevent OPBAS from addressing the issues highlighted by the NRA. In addition to this threat to the public interest, the proposed inconsistency in oversight of regulated and unregulated accountants would create an unfair regulatory burden on professional accountants who are members of professional bodies.
The specific questions raised in the consultation document are very limited. Nevertheless, ACCA intends to voice again its fundamental concerns regarding the proposed scope of OPBAS oversight and the anticipated costs, which will be borne ultimately by members of the professional bodies. ACCA would welcome comments from its members, which will be considered for inclusion in its response to HM Treasury.