HMRC to ‘supervise’ accountants not in professional bodies

Accountants who are not already members of the main professional bodies are
to be subject to HM Revenue & Customs monitoring under a further crackdown
on money laundering and terrorist financing.

New regulations implementing the Third EU Money Laundering Directive
published by economic secretary Ed Balls also extend compliance supervision to
trust and company service providers, estate agents, consumer credit providers
and financial services providers.

The supervision of these businesses will be strengthened by checks to ensure
the individuals running them are deemed ‘fit and proper’.

There will be a new requirement for regulated firms to conduct enhanced due
diligence in respect of customers and situations considered to pose a higher
risk of money laundering and terrorist financing.

And a new anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing strategy
document is to be published within weeks spelling out further action intended
over the next five years.

Accountants who will be subject to HMRC supervision include members of the
Association of Accounting Technicians.

Institutes such as ACCA, the ICAEW and ICAS already monitor the compliance of
their own members.

Balls claimed in a written statement to parliament that the new regulations
were in line with the three key principles that underline money laundering and
counter-terrorist finance strategy: ‘effectiveness, proportionality and
engagement both domestically and with international partners’.

And in a speech to the Financial Crime Conference he claimed that under
existing rules an estimated £3bn of ‘criminal profits’ are moved out of the UK

He said: ‘While the financial sector in the UK relies on its international
reputation for integrity and fair-dealing, it has itself become a target for
organised crime – including, for example, fraud.’

He said the potential of financial information as a powerful investigative
and intelligence tool was only now being fully understood, and the ability to
deny access to the financial system presented a new opportunity to weaken
organised criminal and terrorist networks. He added: ‘We must grasp this
opportunity to do so or suffer the consequences’.

He also made it clear the government will use the UK’s presidency of the
international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to try to force non-compliant
tax havens into line.

Balls also announced a relaxation of due diligence checks for the Child Trust
Fund, and said that pension products where contributions are made solely by the
employer and firms will have greater scope to rely on customer identification
checks by other regulated businesses.

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