UK’s new watchdog shows AML instinct
As reported back in July, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) unveiled a consultation regarding the government-proposed Office for Professional Body AML Supervision (OPBAS) and some draft expectations.
Now it’s a reality and OPBAS is based within FCA and will work with all the UK’s anti-money laundering (AML) supervisors to help improve standards, and with law enforcement to strengthen cooperation.
OPBAS will directly oversee the 22 accountancy and legal professional body AML supervisors in the UK. It will ensure these 22 organisations meet the “high standards” set out in the Money Laundering Regulations 2017, and has powers to investigate and penalise those that do not.
The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, says OPBAS will “deepen the government’s partnership with the private sector as we work together to tackle illicit finance whilst minimising the burdens on legitimate businesses” and “this sends a clear message to criminals and terrorists that their dirty money is not welcome here”.
The UK government adds that this is the latest step in the government’s biggest reform of the UK’s AML regime in a decade, “building on wider work” including enhancing law enforcement’s powers through the Criminal Finances Act and updating the Money Laundering Regulations to implement the latest international standards, both of which took effect in 2017.