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 (tinyurl.com/CCAB-5296) [1]. 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...