Proposed amendments to key AML guidance in the UK were released on August 10th by the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group (JMLSG), a group of leading UK financial services trade associations that includes the British Bankers Association. JMLSG guidance is seen as the standard for AML compliance.
Over recent months, the JMLSG carried out a review of its Money Laundering Guidance (“Guidance”) for the financial sector. The newly released amendments cover Part 1 of the text. Further amendments to Part 2 are still under consideration.
Important revisions to the Guidance have taken place at various stages in order to reflect the implementation of AML and CTF laws and regulations. Amendments to Part 1 of the text are minor in nature and include, inter alia, the following:
- Further clarification of the MLRO’s role has been introduced and the Guidance now states that the decision over whether to make a SAR should not be subject to the review of others. It clearly sets out that any decision made must be that of the MLRO and should not be exposed to the direction or approval of other parties within the firm.
- An additional category of customer has been added to the Guidance at paragraph 4.16. It is suggested that along with PEPs and activities involving large amounts of cash, firms should also be on alert when faced with customers who are engaged in industries that might relate to proliferation activities (transfer or export of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, their means of delivery and related materials).
- At chapter 5, a new category of customer is added to the Guidance. ‘Clients who are listed on exchanges that are not equivalent’ are still subject to some degree of accountability and transparency. The Guidance suggests that as part of their risk-based approach, firms should have regard to the listing conditions that apply in the relevant jurisdiction when deciding whether that company falls into the private company category and consequently one that is deemed to have clear and comprehensive structure, ownership, purposes and activities.
- Other amendments to this chapter comment on PEPs and make it clear that it is for each firm to decide the steps required to implement EDD in respect of higher risk customers. Examples are provided of some jurisdictions that make it illegal for (a generally defined list of) PEPs to hold foreign bank accounts, some require asset declarations to be made and others will make this information publicly available.
- The Guidance now states that the power for firms to carry out EDD is contained within section 7 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008. Following the Royal Assent of this piece of legislation in February 2008, section 5.8 was added to the Guidance. The Guidance sets out the circumstances in which HM Treasury has the power to issue directions to firms in the financial sector in relation to their CDD. The Guidance also sets out the types of directions that may be imposed.
Firms must remain vigilant when it comes to updating their AML/CTF policies and procedures. A constant awareness of the changing legislation and resulting amendments to the Guidance is essential. By remaining sufficiently flexible, responsive and well resourced, firms will ensure they better protect themselves from the risks associated with financial crime.
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