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Criminal record checks FAQs

Frequently asked questions about criminal records checks in the context of money laundering investigations.

Who are BOOMs?

The full definition of a BOOM is here. In summary they are:

  • Beneficial owners - anyone with more than 25% of the shares in a corporate practice. This includes working up the ownership chain to the ultimate beneficial owner.
  • Officers - principals of the practice.
  • Managers - this is quite a tightly defined group and is any one that drives AML policies and procedures or who has responsibility for ensuring the firm is complying with them. This will, therefore, include the Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO), the Money Laundering Compliance Principal (MLCP), any other deputies or other individuals that receive SARs on behalf of the MLRO, and any other senior managers with anti-money laundering responsibilities.
What are the definitions?

The MLR17 define each of the terms beneficial owner, officer and manager but we have worked with the Accountancy Affinity Group (comprising all accountancy professional body supervisors) to provide additional guidance, which has been accepted by OPBAS and HM Treasury.

Which BOOMs do ICAEW hold a record of?

Firms are required to let us know who the principals are in the firm and anyone who exercises control/holds voting rights, as well as letting us know who their MLRO and MLCP is. This information is confirmed through the annual return. You should check who you declared on your last annual return, along with any other notifications you have made to ICAEW since then.

Which criminal offences are relevant?

The relevant convictions are in Schedule 3 of the MLR17.

They are economic crimes (fraud, bribery, dishonesty, tax offences and breaches of the money laundering regulations). Driving offences are not included in the list.

Nonetheless, ICAEW members should be aware that some convictions that are not included within Schedule 3 may still lead to an investigation by Professional Conduct Department.

Must I do DBS checks?

Yes. HM Treasury have confirmed to ICAEW that self-certification is not sufficient. Officially you can do something else that is equivalent to a DBS check but we’re not aware of anything that is equivalent.

We strongly recommend that you do this now. You will need to have proof to show us that you have no unspent convictions at your next Practice Assurance visit after 26 June. (We will want to see the original certificates).

I’m a sole practitioner and I know that I haven’t got a criminal record. Must I do a DBS check?

Yes, unless you can provide alternative evidence to demonstrate you have no unspent convictions which is no more than 3 months old. HM Treasury have made it clear that simple ‘self-declaration’ without evidence will not be sufficient.

In our email (and on our website) we indicated that there might be other ‘equivalent’ ways to evidence criminal history (or lack of it) - but we are not yet aware of any.

We strongly recommend that you do this now. You will need to have proof to show us that you have no unspent convictions at your next Practice Assurance visit after 26 June. (We will want to see the original certificates).

How do I do the checks?

You can apply to the relevant organisation for your jurisdiction:



Northern Ireland:


What do I do with the DBS checks once I have them?

If they are ‘clean’ then you need to retain on file. We will ask to see the original certificate at your next Practice Assurance visit or we may ask you to send them to us in certain circumstances. Please do not send them to us unless we request them. 

Do I need to repeat the checks annually?

There is no requirement to do so although we may provide additional guidance or recommendations in the future.

You do need to notify ICAEW if any BOOM is convicted of a relevant offence.

You need to take reasonable measures to make sure that none of the BOOMs in your firm has a relevant criminal conviction. We recommend to firms that they could do this by requiring all their BOOMs to complete an annual fit and proper declaration, which addresses criminal prosecution.

I have already supplied ICAEW with evidence of criminal record checks in relation to a probate application. Do I need to repeat the process?

No. We will not ask you to repeat the process, just confirm the names of the relevant BOOMs.

I already have a DBS check that I have submitted to another organisation. Do I need to apply for another one?

If you have provided evidence of criminal record checks to other organisations, you can show this during a QAD visit, but it needs to be dated within three months of the date of our request. We only require ‘basic’ DBS checks - so it will be up to you to decide if you wish to submit a ‘standard’ or other check certificate (please bear in mind ICAEW can consider spent as well as unspent convictions in determining if you are ‘fit and proper’ according to ICAEW standards - which are more extensive than those set out in MLR17).

I have completed criminal record checks for another AML supervisor (eg, SRA under reserved legal services). Do I still need to also provide ICAEW with evidence of my criminal record check?

If you have already provided evidence of a criminal record check to another AML supervisor for approval under Regulation 26, we won’t expect you to repeat the check or to provide evidence to us. When we ask you to provide evidence (either during your Practice Assurance visit, or if we write to you) just tell us who the other Supervisory Authority is for the relevant BOOM. In such circumstances, we may be able to accept evidence that pre-dates our request by more than 3 months, but this would need to be agreed with the other supervisor (on a case by case basis).

How do I know if the firm falls within the ‘higher risk’ category?

We have already notified a small number of firms that they are ‘higher risk’.

We will contact any other firms who, as a result of the types of services they provide or their client risk factors, are considered ‘higher risk’ by the end of September 2018.

How do we make a new ‘BOOM’ application after 26 June 2018?

We capture new ‘BOOM’ applications when a regulatory application is submitted or when we are notified of a change to your firm’s structure via a notification to records. Once we have received a new ‘BOOM’ application we will then write to request an original copy of the applicant’s criminal record check certificate. We will need this before we are able to authorise a new ‘BOOM’.

What happens if one of our existing ‘BOOMs’ has an unspent conviction?

You need to notify ICAEW by completing a complaints form.

What if we remove a BOOM, because they have a relevant criminal conviction and this impacts our practice structure and in turn our AML supervision by ICAEW?

There is no set process at the moment and so we could consider each case on an individual basis – it may be that ICAEW would need to provide supervision by contract.

Using DBS Basic service

You will have to sign in through GOV.UK Verify in order to apply for a DBS check. If you haven’t used it before, it takes about 15 minutes to set up an account with one of the providers recognised by GOV.UK Verify.

You will need to have certain personal information to hand to complete the application. This includes the following:

  • email address
  • mobile phone number
  • full name
  • any previous names
  • date of birth
  • current address and month/year moved in
  • previous addresses if at current address for less than five years
  • passport
  • driving licence
  • national insurance number
  • various bank account details
  • various credit card details
  • various mortgage details
  • various utility bill details.