New money laundering regulations were introduced in the UK last week under an EU directive. They extend money-laundering responsibilities to accountants and require companies to ensure all their financial transactions comply with the new rules before September, when the three-month transition period ends.
Karen Briggs, head of the regulatory services practice at KPMG Forensic, said it was vital that ‘even small companies’ appointed a money laundering officer as soon as possible.
‘If you don’t have one, the jail sentence would fall onto the directors of the company, including the finance or compliance director,’ she said.
The new rules require companies who accept cash payments of €15,000 (£10,400) or more to register it with HM Customs & Excise. In addition, companies need to introduce procedures to identify cash-paying customers and keep records of identification documents.
The FSA last year imposed a £750,000 fine on the Royal Bank of Scotland for failing to implement and adhere to identification procedures. Under the new rules, similar fines could hit companies.
‘It is important that people start taking this seriously now,’ Briggs warned.According to a recent poll carried out by training recruitment consultancy SWAT, more estate agents than accountants are aware of the new laws.
Some 85% of accountants surveyed said they were fully aware of the changes. However estate agents topped the poll with 95%, with those in financial institutions on 85%, and solicitors at 70%. Only 30% of employers said they intended to train their staff on the new regulations.
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