Combatting Money Laundering – Part 2

Dishing the Dirt

By: Alex Byrne – 22 January 2019

KEY POINTS

  • Tax practitioners should take care to ensure that clients are not tipped off about money laundering reports.
  • Understanding when a suspicious activity report should be made.
  • The difference between internal and external reports.
  • There are limited exemptions from making reports.
  • Advisers should take care not to risk their businesses by falling foul of the anti-money laundering legislation.

In the first part of this article (‘A dirty business’, Taxation, 29 November 2018), we considered the basic principles of the anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and recognising the circumstances that might indicate suspicious activity. In this issue we will consider ‘tipping off’, reports and exemptions.

Accountancy and tax practice staff must be properly trained on tipping off, which is covered in paragraph 6.1.20 of the CCAB’s Anti-Money Laundering Guidance for the Accountancy Sector. Similar paragraph references in this article refer to this guidance.

The offence of tipping off is committed when a relevant employee in the regulated sector discloses that a suspicious activity report (SAR) has been made and this disclosure is likely to prejudice any subsequent, current or contemplated investigation into allegations of money laundering or terrorist financing (MLTF).

There are some exceptions at paragraph 6.1.23 of the CCAB guidance.

  • A person does not commit an offence, for example, if they make a disclosure to a fellow employee of the same undertaking.
  • Nor is an offence committed if:
  • a relevant professional adviser makes a disclosure to another within the same profession (for example, accountancy) but from a different firm, who is of the same professional standing, when that disclosure relates to a single client or former client of both advisers and is made only to prevent a money laundering offence; and
  • is made to a person in an EU member state or a state imposing equivalent anti-money laundering requirements.
  • No disclosure offence is committed if an adviser attempts to dissuade their client from conduct amounting to an offence. And no offence is committed when enquiries are made of a client regarding something that properly falls within the normal scope of the engagement or relationship. This might be to understand a specific transaction or even, for example, to ask about an invoice that does not appear to have been included on a client’s tax return.
  • Individuals concerned about tipping off may wish to consult their money laundering reporting officer (MLRO). It is important that documents containing references to the subject matter of any AML report are not released to third parties without first consulting the officer.

The AML guidance advises that MLROs may seek advice from a suitably skilled and knowledgeable professional legal adviser or from the helplines and support services provided by the professional bodies (paragraph 6.1.29). A discussion with the National Crime Agency (NCA) and law enforcement may also be valuable, but the guidance warns that they cannot provide advice and are not entitled to dictate the conduct of a professional relationship. Continue reading...

Combatting Money Laundering – Part 1

By: Alex Byrne – 27 November 2018

Alex Byrne sets out the ways practitioners can protect themselves from the charge of money laundering and looks at published guidance.

KEY POINTS

  • Why is money laundering so important to accountants?
  • The application of the rules and examples of money laundering activities.
  • Avoiding committing a money laundering offence
  • The ‘Flag it up’ campaign and signs of money laundering.
  • Risk assessment, potential tax fraud and deciding whether to report.

A dirty business

As the government relaunches its ‘Flag it up’ campaign against money laundering activity, Alex Byrne considers the important role played by accountants and tax advisers in combating the practice.

The Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB) is the umbrella group of various chartered accountancy bodies: the ICAEW, ACCA, CIPFA, ICAS and Chartered Accountants Ireland. In March 2018, it published a new document, Anti-Money Laundering Guidance for the Accountancy Sector. My initial reaction was surely we did not really need a 73-page document that is not legislation and does not spell out the things to look for. Most accountants seek practical guidance on anti-money laundering, especially something they can pass on to staff to strike a balance between, at one extreme, failing to carry out the requisite procedures and, at the other, swamping the firm’s money laundering reporting officer (MLRO). However, on rereading, the guidance improves with familiarity.

Familiarity, not contempt

The anti-money laundering (AML) guidance has legal status, so accountants remaining unfamiliar with it or not applying its provisions do so at their peril. The regulations apply, with some exceptions, ‘to the persons (“relevant persons”) acting in the course of business carried on by them in the UK’. This includes (reg 8(2)(c)) auditors, insolvency practitioners, external accountants and tax advisers and (reg 8(2)(e)) trust or company service providers and company services in the UK, other than under a contract of employment. Continue reading...

Avoid the January Tax Return Chaos – Automate Your Requests and Reminders to Ease Your Workload

Avoid the January Tax Return Chaos – Automate Your Requests and Reminders to Ease Your Workload

Happy New Year? For many accountancy firms, January is the most hectic time of year.

As the January 31st deadline looms, once again your clients are suddenly rushing to provide you with last minute information as they realise they need to get their accounts in order and pay their tax.

Every year this happens and the only way to break this is through education and constant reminders and nudges sent to your clients to get the right records, receipts, documents, and information over to you, the accountant.

The issue of sending information over last minute probably comes down to Parkinson’s Law:

Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

“A whole year to complete a tax return? I have ages!” they must think.

Clients might keep their accounts up-to-date throughout the year, or they may just send you everything in one go and rely on you to do the rest.

So how can you have a more peaceful January in 2020?

Scare your clients with tales of fines?

Encouraging your clients to get their accounts in order earlier and keep them as up-to-date as much as possible all year round is an easy solution, but it might seem like a tough one to manage.

Even when you explain the possible danger of a late submission or payment, it can seem like it won’t happen to them. Continue reading...

Saving Time in Your Accountancy Firm

Time is money. In fact, time is actually a mindset, but we won’t get all woo woo on you because if you’re in business then time costs you money.

Your employees and even you are costing your business money and if the time spent in and on the business isn’t managed efficiently then you’ll be less profitable than you could be.

Being more efficient with your time can and does lead to more profit and a stronger business that can grow more easily. When you run an accountancy firm you have so much you need to do on a daily basis. From Tax reminders to securing records and submitting files to HMRC, a day in an accountancy firm is rarely dull or quiet.

How often are you sending paperwork or paying someone to do it? Could a CRM and using efficient automation save you time? How many hours do you spend on regular client interactions?

A CRM like AccountancyManager helps your firm be more efficient and more profitable.

Here’s how we do it…

Take less time to take on new clients

Taking on a new client takes time and many of the accountants we speak to say that the sheer amount of paperwork and correspondence it takes to onboard a new client effectively makes the first few months (or in the worst case, years) non-profitable.

Aside from this being a pricing issue, in the highly competitive but compliant world you work in, getting all the right paperwork in place takes time. But it doesn’t have to. Continue reading...

Automating Your Accountancy Practice (Fed up of Long Hours and Late Nights?)

Whatever field of professional services you’re in, creating the most efficient practice will be a key goal. And with advances in technology, online working and software automation, accounting is moving closer than ever to the nirvana of the efficient automated cloud practice.

By driving efficiency through automation you give yourself choice, and that’s something that many practising accountants don’t have – time or choice in how you work and live your lives.

Whether you’re an accountant, bookkeeper or payroll businesses, most of us will have found ourselves up at midnight, sending an email to a client to chase up urgent information that’s missing. And when deadlines are looming and the clock is ticking, this pushes your resourcing as a firm, and creates an admin headache for everyone in the business.

But by having a solution like AccountancyManager as the foundational platform of the firm, and applying all the benefits of software automation, you can stop working late into the night – and get back the time you’ve previously spent with your nose to the admin grindstone.

James Byrne, ex-accountant and founder of AccountancyManager, explains just how automation turns around your practice management – saving you time, increasing your profits and giving you more choice around how and when you work.
Continue reading...

AccountancyManager Wins the Software Excellence ‘Practice Management’ Award

Software Excellence Winner 2017

The Software Excellence Awards, presented by AccountingWEB and hosted by Rachel Riley took place alongside the Practice Excellence Awards at The Brewery in London on 19 October.

There were over 30 companies that entered the ‘Practice Management’ category, of those, 5 companies were shortlisted.

Over 1,000 votes were placed. AccountancyManager was among the 5 shortlisted and went on to win the category by achieving the highest customer rating.

In an article about the stories behind the awards, John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB’s global editor, wrote,

“But the well known names didn’t have it all their own way. Newcomer AccountancyManager came out of nowhere to nab the practice management award. Having launched the cloud-based work-tracking system for small firms in March this year, AccountancyManager has attracted more than 500 sign-ups and 150 converts in the months since according to founder James Byrne. And enough of them cast favourable votes in the poll to topple the giants.”

In an email to AM clients, Byrne wrote,

“We would like to thank everyone who has supported us so far and voted for us in the practice management category for the software excellence awards.”

Thanks go to AccountingWEB for putting on a great event.

“Signing up to AccountancyManager has been one of the best decisions our practice has ever made.

After adapting generic CRM systems to the best of our abilities, AM has been a breath of fresh air and is improving week on week.

The fact that the team are friendly, helpful and willing to work with accountants and build a product to service real needs makes it an excellent investment for a minimal outlay.”

Clare (TaxKings Ltd)

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