A dangerous little form

There is a dangerous little online form used by one of the AML (anti-money laundering) supervisory bodies for UK accountants. It is dangerous because it looks innocuous and takes only moments to complete – but an error can have serious consequences!

The form asks the user to provide his name, the name of his firm and the firm’s membership number – and then to tick a couple of boxes. That’s it. The boxes to tick say:

  1. I confirm I am the MLRO and I understand that a false declaration on this form may lead to disciplinary action being taken against me and/or my firm.
  2. I confirm that the relevant actions have been completed and my firm is now compliant with the MLR 2017.

The MLRO will be asked to complete this form after the firm has completed an AML risk assessment questionnaire for the supervisory body and this has highlighted some issues to be addressed.

Now the MLRO might be thinking that if I just tick these boxes and submit the form that will finalise my firm’s money laundering compliance review and I won’t hear any more about the Money Laundering Regulations for a few years.

But that is not how the supervisory body uses the form. It is simply a step in the continuing AML review process. The supervisory body will probably follow it up with requests for the MLRO to submit documentary evidence to confirm that the firm is indeed compliant with the requirements of the MLR 2017.

So think very carefully before submitting this form. Has the firm completed all the actions necessary to become compliant with MLR 2017 – not has it started on them, or made steps towards compliance, but has it completed all the actions necessary?

The risk is that if the supervisory body subsequently discovers that, at the date the form was submitted, the firm had not completed all the actions necessary to become compliant with MLR 2017 then it may commence disciplinary proceedings against the MLRO on the basis of dishonesty and/or lack of integrity. That is a serious allegation.

If you have any concerns about your firm’s AML compliance, or you are currently facing difficulties with your supervisory body, please contact us now.

David Winch MLRO support services ltd