This week, the Office for Professional Body AML Supervision (OPBAS) released a report on the AML supervision provided to practicing members by the legal and accountancy Professional Body Supervisors (PBS).
The report was damning. PBS are failing to support and regulate their members in accordance with the demands of AML legislation.
This is a double edged sword for practitioners. On the one hand they may have experienced a light touch by their professional bodies, and as a consequence may have been lulled in a false sense of “all is well” with their AML systems, but unfortunately, firms may not be AML compliant.
Clearly this situation will need to improve as members of professional bodies are entitled to rely on effective oversight. Where else are they supposed to lean on for AML support if not to the professional organisation to which they qualified to practice and pay their annual fees?
Various pundits have been quick to pick up on these revelations by the OPBAS to infer that PSBs are wary of being heavy handed with their members on possible breaches of the AML rules as this may possibly have a negative impact on an PSB’s ability to retain members.
What seems to be missing is any commentary on the state monitoring body, HMRC, who are responsible for regulating the activities of persons or firms working in the regulated sector, but are required to register with HMRC is no PBS is available to them for AML compliance oversight.
Presumably, accountants in practice should expect their PSB to react to this report, and that as a consequence, supervisory visits may become more frequent and fines more prominent for those displaying less than adequate processes to comply with the AML.