FCA consults on new anti-money laundering supervisory body

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority today has today asked for comment on its plans to create a new “supervisor of supervisors” office, to determine whether anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules are being applied properly by the UK’s 200,000 lawyers and accountants. 

Specifically, as proposed by the regulator, the proposed new Office for Professional Body AML Supervision (OPBAS), would “oversee the adequacy of the anti-money laundering supervisory arrangements” of 22 professional bodies that the 200,000 lawyers and accountants belong to.

The running costs of the OPBAS are to be paid for out of a fee that will be charged to the professional bodies that it will be supervising, with the means of obtaining this fee to be consulted on at a later date, as part of the FCA’s annual consultation on fees.

Among the professional bodies whose members are expected to be covered by the new OPBAS’s scrutiny will be the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales;  the Law Society/Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Association of International Accountants.

Today’s announcement comes four months after the government announced its intention to create OPBAS,  as a new entity sitting within the FCA structure.

It also comes in the wake of a package of new  money laundering regulations that took effect on 26 June 2017, the compliance with which OPBAS will ultimately be charged with overseeing.

Megan Butler, executive director of supervision of the FCA’s Investment, Wholesale and Specialists division, said the aim of OPBAS would be “to ensure consistency and quality, and to drive up standards across all professional body AML supervisors in the UK”.

The FCA said OPBAS’s would do this by develop a sound understanding of the workings of the different bodies and sectors they supervise; adopting a risk-based approach that concentrates its supervisory resources where the risk is greatest; and liaising with other bodies with oversight roles for the professions to share good practice, while at the same time avoiding “supervisory conflicts”.

It said it expects the new entity to be up and running by the beginning of 2018.

To read and download the government’s consultation, click here.

The consultation runs until 22 October.

To see the 22 professional bodies that the FCA sees as being covered by the new OPBAS, go to page 2.

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