Flag It Up: vital for accountants to get involved

Flag It Up: vital for accountants to get involved

AAT warns that accountants need to know the ‘red flags’ in order to tackle money laundering problems in the UK

Today the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has urged UK accountants to support the government’s ‘Flag It Up’ campaign.

Flag It Up is an anti-money laundering campaign that promotes the improvement of communication when reporting the suspicious behaviour of a client or company, or suspicious financial anomalies.

AAT, as a member of the Accountancy Affinity Group, has partnered with the government on this scheme in order to help to highlight the various threats posed to the accounting sector by money laundering.

AAT’s report has emphasised that “Flag It Up encourages accountants to spot the ‘red flags’ or so-called warning signs of money laundering, and informs them to flag up any suspicions by submitting a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) to the National Crime Agency (NCA).”

According to AAT, red flags that accountants need to be looking out for include:

  • Clients being overly secretive or evasive
  • Amount/source of funds seeming to be unusual
  • Odd discrepancies in client transactions/business activities

NCA’S National Strategic Assessment this year highlighted that the scale of money laundering that is impacting the UK annually could potentially be hundreds of billions of pounds in total. Furthermore, accountants remain a clear target for criminals who are looking to exploit professional skills and services when attempting to conceal the origins of proceeds from a crime they have committed. It is therefore vital that accountants remain diligent.

“Accountants are under a legal obligation under the Money Laundering Regulations of 2017 to file a SAR when they spot something suspicious, and SARS are invaluable to law enforcement in helping tackle money laundering and other crimes,” AAT’s report claimed.

Adam Williamson, head of professional standards at AAT, concluded: “In the accountancy sector, most of us are aware of the serious threats that money laundering poses to the profession, as well as to the economy. It’s important for AAT members to always be on the lookout for the red flags of money laundering. But, beyond that, we also need to understand the importance of reporting, should we encounter what could be considered as suspicious activity.”

More information about the Flag It Up campaign can be found here.

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