The Government is to set up a new watchdog to close loopholes used by criminals as part of a wider clampdown on money laundering and terrorist financing.
It plans to launch the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) – a new group that will sit within the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – by the start of next year. It comes as the Government moves to introduce new, stricter money laundering regulations that it said would ensure the UK meets the latest global standards.
The aim is for OPBAS to iron out the inconsistencies and gaps between the myriad different guidelines that govern anti-money laundering (AML) efforts and other measures tackling financial crime.
As well as HMRC, the FCA and the Gambling Commission, there are a further 22 accountancy and legal trade bodies that supervise and issue rules to fight money laundering across various sectors.
The Treasury is concerned that the plethora of guidelines has opened loopholes that are being exploited by criminals, a problem it hopes to tackle with OPBAS. Ministers have proposed that the new watchdog will have the power to fine supervisors if the new money laundering regulations are breached.
The new watchdog will also seek to simplify the anti-money laundering rules that apply to different industries.
Simon Kirby, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said the new regulations and watchdog “will bring the UK’s anti-money laundering regime into line with the latest international standards, and ensure consistently high standards of supervision across all sectors, sending a strong message that money laundering and terrorist financing should not and will not be tolerated.”