AML – the essentials, issue 21
AML the essentials, issue 21 contains an invitation to our next live webinar, guidance on court orders (in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police) and an update on improvements to the SARs online portal.
In this issue
On 2 June, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) updated their guidance on prosecuting standalone cases under s.330 POCA 2002 (failure to report). This new guidance sets out that CPS can prosecute where no suspicious activity report (SAR) was made, even if it subsequently transpires that the money laundering didn’t occur. We understand that the CPS intends to use this revised guidance in only the most serious of cases.
While firms should be aware of the changed guidance, there should be minimal impact on your policies and procedures. You should continue to:
- train your staff on red flag indicators and the money laundering risks faced by your firms;
- have robust procedures for internally reporting suspicions to the MLRO;
- clearly document decisions for reporting, or not reporting, a suspicion to the National Crime Agency.
Production and Disclosure orders are a lawful means for law enforcement to obtain information you hold which is needed for a criminal investigation into money laundering offences or an investigation relating to Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (civil proceedings in relation to the forfeiture of cash).
750,000 SARs were reported in the year to March 2021. The official numbers for the previous year were nearer to 500,000. The SAR reporting system needs to be able to facilitate ease of reporting and of subsequent analysis and data collection. There has been significant investment in the UK Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU) to enable them to meet the increasing demands and, as well as increasing staff numbers, the Home Office has backed a SARs IT transformation programme.
For those accountants submitting SARs online, this will be welcome news as part of the transformation includes an update to the SARs online portal.
Ultimately, the project will support a reduction in illicit finance transacted through the UK, an improved understanding of threats, timelier vulnerable victim identification and enhanced risk management of the regulated sector.
SAR reporters have been engaged with the project from the beginning, ensuring that the online reporting will be an improved user experience, more modern, accessible and user friendly.
There will be more:
- standardised fields to improve data quality in the submitted reports;
- mandatory fields and data validation at the point of submission thus reducing the back and forth between reporters and the UKFIU; and
- embedded guidance for users.
We expect you to begin to see these enhancements in the latter part of 2021. ICAEW have representatives on the project and we will ensure you are updated as it progresses.
Join us on 7 July at 11:00-12:30 for the second in our series of webinars aimed at providing informed guidance to accountancy firms on their AML obligations. After the first webinar we received a high number of questions on these two topics and they are therefore the focus of our second webinar.
Hear from our team of AML experts: MLROs and members of ICAEW's AML supervisory team who will explore:
- What do the regulations say about Tipping Off?
- How does this translate in practice? Case studies provided
- What is a Defence Against Money Laundering (DAML)?
- How do I submit a DAML?
- What happens to my DAML?
- Case studies – DAMLs in action
Submitting a suspicious activity report is much more than a routine compliance obligation. We talk to Martin Cox, Head of Engagement, Communications and Risk Management, UKFIU, about the critical role ICAEW firms and members play in piecing together information that can protect vulnerable people and bring criminals to justice.
ICAEW’s regulatory and disciplinary committees rely on a broad mix of members, both accountant and lay, who come together in a collegiate way to make objective and reasoned decisions. Accountant members give their time and expertise voluntarily, and their initial motivation for joining is often to ‘give back’ to their profession. But they also find it’s a two-way street: they come away learning things they can take back to their practices, and that help their personal and career development.
In February, the Economic Crime Strategic Board agreed to publish a ‘Statement of Progress’ on our joint public private partnership delivery of the Economic Crime Plan.
The NCA has released a number of important resources and publications.
Follow our new Regulation and Conduct LinkedIn page to keep up to date with the very latest regulatory updates.