I have just attended the 8th annual conference of IMLPO where two of the key speakers, Edward Garnier QC MP, Solicitor General and Hugh Burns, Head of Financial Crime Team HM Treasury, gave interesting updates to both the international and UK regimes and a time table for new changes.
Firstly, the FATF 4th round of evaluation, which proposes changes to the way we approach PEP’s and beneficial owners, reinforcing the risk based approach and importantly, including tax evasion, of both direct and indirect taxation as predicate reportable offences of the money laundering regime. These changes will be formally approved at the February 2012 Plenary. It is expected the EEC will have the 4th European directive passed by the end of 2012 to reflect the changes, prompting the UK to adopt the 2013 or 2014 Money Laundering Regulations.
Further to these changes HM Treasury will shortly issue there proposals for changes to the UK’s own regime following their ‘call for evidence’ and other reviews of the regime. These proposals will be made available for review and consultation by all interested parties and on finalisation will be included with the implementation of the 4th directive.
The proposed changes will include amendments such as including into the regime businesses that offer high value services for cash and a tightening up of how to demonstrate compliance to a supervisor through formal policies and procedures, amongst other adjustments to the regime.
Also included will be the two proposals made by the Chancellor in his budget speech which caused a bit of a debate. Firstly, it will be the Governments intent to remove criminality from the Regulations aimed at the private sector. This approach was confirmed by the Attorney General and further expanded to aspects of PoCA, namely sections 330 to 332, for the failure to report SAR’s it would not generally be in the public’s interest to take criminal action against the private sector, but instead make a referral to the relevant supervisor for them to deal with or commence civil proceedings for the breach. S336 concerning consent, is also an area on concern which will see an overhaul making life easier for the reporter.
Lastly, the one that got everybody excited, is there going to be an exemption to the Regime for smaller businesses? Yes, they want to propose a £15,000 annual turnover exemption from the requirements of the regulations. This will help many in the accountancy sector who are caught by the regime, such as part time bookkeepers, semi-retired practitioners and those staff members who do a bit extra on weekends and evenings in their own name. This will also allow new business to get started, before firstly having to the implement ML Regulations.
I would suggest that the accountancy sector more than any other would benefit from this piece of deregulation.