HMRC Visits to Businesses Registered with Them For MLR
This factsheet gives information to businesses registered with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (MLRs) about our visits to you at your business premises. It tells you:
• about the visit
• what happens during the visit
• what to expect after the visit
• your MLR rights and obligations
• about penalties.
About the visit
Why HMRC visits businesses under the MLRs
HMRC visits businesses to make sure that you understand what you have to do under the MLRs. It is also a good chance for you to ask about anything you are unsure of, or to get help with any MLR problems you’re having.
How we decide who to visit
HMRC may arrange to visit you in any of the following situations:
• if we believe there is a risk that money laundering could take place at your business
• if we need to follow up any action discussed with you at a previous visit
• if you are new to the MLRs and we want to make sure you know what to do.
We can also ask you to send in your records either through the post or electronically to carry out compliance checks. After carrying out these checks we may arrange to visit you to clear up any areas of concern.
If we do decide to visit you, this doesn’t mean that something is wrong.
Arranging the visit
HMRC will usually phone you to arrange a date and time for a visit that suits you and will then send you a letter confirming the details. HMRC will also tell you in the letter:
• the names and contact numbers of the HMRC officers who will be visiting you
• who they will want to speak to when they come to see you
• what information and records they will want to see.
HMRC has the right to visit without making an appointment first, but this only happens in rare cases.
Where will the visit take place?
The visit usually takes place at your main business premises. You will have to let HMRC know if you want the visit to take place somewhere else, but you will still need to make sure that the right people, records, and information are available at that place.
How often can you expect a visit?
This varies and can depend on:
• the size and nature of your business
• the type of customers you have
• what HMRC found on previous visits.
HMRC may need to visit you at a later date if a separate issue arises.
During the visit
Who will need to be there for the visit?
The owner of the business has to be there at least for the start of the visit, to talk to the HMRC officer(s). After that, the Nominated Officer and any other person who takes care of MLR matters within the business should be there. This may be the same person.
It is important that this person can:
• answer the officers’ questions about how the business runs their anti money laundering policies and procedures
• give them any information or records they need.
Can your professional adviser be there?
If you have a professional adviser they can be present during the visit. This may be helpful if they were involved in setting up or training your staff on your anti money laundering policies and procedures. Your adviser cannot stand in for you at the visit. You still need to be there as HMRC will need to speak to you (as the business owner) and also to the Nominated Officer.
HMRC will confirm the business registration details and discuss your policies and procedures, as well as helping you with any queries you may have. Your adviser can only be there to help by explaining things or making things clearer.
What happens on the visit?
When HMRC officers arrive at your premises, they will show you their identity cards and will start the visit by talking to you about the business. HMRC need to check that the information held about your business is correct, and will ask you to:
• confirm your registration details (including details of any fit and proper applicants if you are a Money Service Business, or a Trust or Company Service Provider)
• explain what risks you have identified at your business
• explain what anti money laundering policies and procedures you have put in place to deal with these risks
• explain how you have trained your staff to carry out these procedures
• explain about any Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) you have sent.
You can also ask the HMRC officers any questions about what you are expected to do under the regulations. They are there to help you and make clear any areas you don’t understand.
When they have finished asking you their questions, the officers may then carry out some checks on your records at your premises.
Checks HMRC officers may carry out at your premises
The officers may carry out checks, for example:
• look at records of your transactions
• check the identity checks you made on your customers
• look at how you identify any suspicious activity and send any SARs to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). For more information, go to hmrc.gov.uk/mlr/your-role/suspicious-transaction.htm
• check your staff know about your anti money laundering systems and are trained on how to use them, including how to deal with any suspicious activity they come across
• make sure your anti money laundering policies and procedures work effectively
• inspect any cash on your premises if you are a High Value Dealer or a Money Service Business
• check that your anti money laundering policies and procedures cover all your relevant business activities (for example, if you are a Money Service Business which also offers pawnbroker services, it is important that your anti money laundering systems work for both activities).
What records will the HMRC officers want to see?
The officers may ask to see:
• your bank statements
• copies of your customers’ identity details documents, such as copies of their passports or utility bills
• records of your transactions
• any audit reports you have on your anti money laundering policies and procedures
• a job description of the senior person responsible in your business for making sure the MLR requirements are carried out
• records of any suspicious transactions you have found, and copies of any reports sent to SOCA
• staff training records.
How long will the visit take?
HMRC will aim to carry out their visits as quickly as possible. Unless you are a large or complex business the visit will usually take less than a day.
When the HMRC officers have finished their checks
HMRC officers will tell you what they looked at and let you know about any problems they found. They will then tell you how you can sort out these problems and explain any action you need to take. They can also answer any questions you may have before they leave.
Your MLR rights and obligations
You have the right to:
• receive help during the visit from your adviser, if you have one
• make a complaint if you believe that HMRC has not treated you fairly.
HMRC protects any information obtained, received or held about you. We can only ask you for what is reasonable to carry out the visit. What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of the visit.
You have an obligation to:
• take care to get things right.
• take reasonable care to make sure that any details your adviser gives us are correct.
After the visit
If the HMRC officers find any problems while on the visit, they will write to you to confirm what they found and let you know about any action you need to take to put this right.
For more information about:
• penalties – go to hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/mlr1ppmanual/index.htm
Published October 2013