To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the Office for Professional Body Anti Money Laundering Supervision Anti-Money Laundering Supervision by the Legal and Accountancy Professional Body Supervisors: Progress and themes from 2019, published in March, and the finding that "92 per cent of accountancy Professional Body Supervisors expressed concerns about taking robust action if this would damage their ability to attract or retain members", what plans they have to consolidate the number of anti-money laundering regulators.
2 November 2020
Under the Money Laundering Regulations, the Treasury is responsible for appointing Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Terrorism Financing (CTF) supervisors. It seeks to ensure they deliver a robust and risk-based approach to supervision, applying dissuasive sanctioning powers when appropriate, while minimising unnecessary burdens on regulated firms.
In 2018, the government established the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) to oversee the 22 legal and accountancy Professional Body Supervisors (PBSs) and ensure a consistent standard of supervision. In addition, OPBAS has an overarching responsibility to strengthen the UK’s supervisory regime by facilitating increased information and intelligence sharing between PBSs, statutory AML supervisors and law enforcement.
The introduction of OPBAS reflects the findings of the government’s previous calls for information, which identified that the focus should be on the effectiveness of supervision, rather than the number of supervisors.
As part of the Economic Crime Plan, OPBAS committed to working with the 22 PBSs to ensure they have appropriate plans in place to address the AML/CTF weakness identified in their supervisory assessments and summarised in their first annual report, including in relation to the separation of functions.
Since publication of the first report, all PBSs have taken steps to address the weaknesses identified and have proposed action plans in place. OPBAS’s second report noted significant improvement in the suitability, in principle, of governance arrangements for AML supervision. At the end of 2018, 44% of PBSs lacked clear accountability for supervisory activity. By the end of 2019, this was reduced to zero. OPBAS will continue to monitor PBSs progress against these and assess their effectiveness to deliver more consistent supervisory standards.
Where OPBAS has identified deficiencies in PBSs’ oversight arrangements or practices, they have taken robust action, including using powers of direction. OPBAS will continue to take such action when appropriate with PBSs to ensure consistent high standards of supervision are achieved.