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Updated Anti-Money Laundering (AML) guidance for the UK accounting sector

July 19, 2022

HM Treasury has approved the final Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB) on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) guidance 2022 for the accounting sector.

The new guidance incorporates changes made to the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Payer Information) Regulation 2017 from January 2020, when the EU's Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) was transposed into UK law. It regulates auditing, accounting, tax, corporate, insolvency and trust services providers in the UK. Supervisory authorities of the state for combating money laundering that exercise control over the activities of accountants also approved and adopted it.

The guide is based on the law and regulations of July 13, 2021, and replaces the draft guide published in September 2020. Legislation references have been updated to reflect the UK's exit from the EU, although most EU requirements remain, except for some rules regarding EU high-risk country lists. The guide now also contains several interpretations of the existing AML guide.

Companies that discover inconsistencies in the Significant Control Register must report them to Companies House within 15 business days instead of the previously allowed 30-day grace period. It will enable the company to discuss the potential non-compliance with the customer to determine whether an unintentional error has been made and whether it can be corrected immediately.

The wording of some of the requirements has been changed from “should” to “must” in order to strengthen the interpretation of management by companies. These enhanced requirements include firm-wide risk assessments, new services, products or ways of working, employee screening, and specific rules regarding client and PEP due diligence. The Guide also clarifies the wording of the enhanced due diligence procedure for occasional transactions involving high-risk third countries.

T The Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies will also provide an updated interpretation of who should be considered a company agent to train agents to conduct customer due diligence and prepare suspicious activity reports (SARs). In addition, the ability to provide a "good reason" for not providing a SAR has been extended to the accounting sector to align with the legal industry. It now includes situations where all relevant facts are in the public domain, or all relevant details are known to law enforcement.

There is also an extended list of suspicious items to help identify money laundering and terrorist financing operations. New case studies on identifying beneficial owners for client due diligence are also provided, covering a range of client types and structures. It also considers the situations that arise when the National Crime Agency is not satisfied and does not deny the possibility of defence against money laundering charges.

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