The Government is set to introduce a new anti-money laundering watchdog to close loopholes used by criminals, in a wider clampdown on money laundering and terrorist financing.
It plans to launch the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) – a new group that will sit within the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – by the start of next year. It comes as the Government moves to introduce new, stricter money laundering regulations that it said would ensure the UK meets the latest global standards.
The aim is for OPBAS to remove the inconsistencies and gaps between the numerous different guidelines that govern anti-money laundering efforts and other measures tackling financial crime.
Alongside HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the FCA and the Gambling Commission, there are a further 22 accountancy and legal trade bodies that supervise and issue rules to fight money laundering across various sectors.
The Treasury is worried that the abundance of guidelines has opened loopholes that are being exploited by criminals, an issue it hopes to combat with OPBAS. Ministers have proposed that the new watchdog will have the power to fine supervisors if the new anti-money laundering regulations are breached.
The new watchdog will also seek to simplify the anti-money laundering rules that apply to different industries.
The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Kirby, says the new regulations and watchdog “will bring the UK’s anti-money laundering regime into line with the latest international standards and ensure consistently high standards of supervision across all sectors, sending a strong message that money laundering and terrorist financing should not and will not be tolerated”.
The Chief Executive of NAEA Propertymark, Mark Hayward, comments on the plans: “It’s good news that the consultation on money laundering has finally appeared. When the legislation comes into force, it’s vital the sector acts to implement the changes.
“The Government has announced that purchasers are now included in the application of customer due diligence, so additional checks will need to be made by sales agents and auctioneers, which will be complicated by the fact that buyers are sometimes at arm’s length and there’s not necessarily a face-to-face relationship.”
He adds: “However, further clarity will be required as to at what point the purchaser becomes a purchaser, and this is an issue we will be seeking guidance on.”
The Government’s consultation is open until 12th April 2017. Get involved here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/money-laundering-regulations-2017