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Accountants in Practice

Anti Money laundering : Doing it by the book



Richard Simms offers a timely reminder on your obligations under the money laundering regulations

In 2015, I had the pleasure of presenting on AML to over 1,000 accountants and bookkeepers in practice from a wide variety of AML supervisory bodies. It’s given me a good steer on what you, the reader, might think about AML!

I understand that many of you may feel aggrieved that you have had to take on more administration, responsibility and liability because of the AML legislation. I also have to comply with the legislation within our insolvency and rescue business.

What I do know is that many of you who have engaged with and sought to comply with the legislation sleep better at night! It is interesting to hear feedback from various AML supervisors from their supervisory visits. The feedback in general is fairly consistent.

Many are now collecting a copy of a passport or driving licence as photo ID and also a recent proof of address. Don’t forget to certify the copies when you see the original or have it certified by some else if you don’t. If your client’s details change you will need to update your file.

There may still be some of you that feel that they know their clients well and that it’s a bit embarrassing to ask clients for ID. Best practice is certainly to be consistent across all clients. If you don’t properly document the identification and verification process for a client it is your risk not theirs.

You would be wise to have a written policy on AML and clear procedures in place for the various stages of AML. Couple this with an AML, hard copy or electronic, manual and your systems are falling into place. All of these will be expected by your supervisor.

A further regular is risk assessments. There is often a lack of firm and client risk assessments. The firm risk assessment should consider the type of work your firm undertakes, in what markets sectors and what locations. If you see your practice as low risk, then fine but demonstrate how you reached that conclusion. It was recently described to be that if your AML actions are not recorded then they never happened, so please record what you do and did.

Whatever your view, the AML environment is not going away and you will see changes coming, probably this year, as the2015 fourth EU AML directive is brought into UK law. The 3rd EU directive became the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.

As an ICPA member you have access to AMLCC as part of your membership subscription, so you’re already paying for it! AML needs to be accepted as part of your firm’s day-to-day system.

If you’re unsure if your firm is fully compliant with AML and CTF, simply register online with AMLCC or call us on 01455 555468 and we will be happy to assist.

• Richard Simms is Managing Director of the Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Company and F.A. Simms

Published April 2016