Accountants face laundering jail threath

The new rules, introduced on Monday, expand on current money laundering laws. A new negligence offence has been introduced meaning a crime has been committed if an accountant has had reasonable grounds to know or suspect that somebody was engaged in money laundering, but failed to report it.

It has also expanded the law to cover the laundering of funds from any crime, as opposed to just drug-related offences.

Daren Allen, a partner at law firm DLA, said: ‘There is a perception that lawyers and accountants are not doing enough to stop money laundering, and in some cases are actually assisting. The government wants to see the number of disclosures of suspected money laundering increase from these professionals and could seek to make examples in this area.’

The crime of negligence can result in a five-year prison term, but there is a provision for a defence if inadequate training had been provided by employers. Karen Briggs, partner at KPMG, said: ‘Firms have the responsibility to ensure that their employees are suitably trained to detect any potential laundering of money from crime.’ She added that even those with systems currently in place would have to update them to include the details of the new act.

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