Money Laundering: New Watchdog for Professional Bodies

Of relevance to: All firms for general interest

HM Treasury has announced the creation of a new money laundering watchdog that will tackle potential weaknesses in the money laundering supervisory system that criminals and terrorists may be trying to exploit.

The new money laundering watchdog will be known as the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (“OPBAS”). The announcement was made the same day as the publication of the Money Laundering and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (see “Money Laundering: Politically Exposed Persons” article in this Regulatory Roundup).

The Treasury announcement informs us that of the organisations that are responsible for supervising money laundering risk/terrorist financing risk – including the FCA, HMRC and the Gambling Commission – 22 of these organisations are accountancy and legal services providers’ professional bodies. The creation of OPBAS will ensure consistent high standards across the regime, whilst imposing the minimum possible burden on legitimate business.

We are advised that OPBAS will be housed in the FCA, being funded by a new fee on professional body supervisors. It is expected to be operational by the start of 2018.