What is ACCA’s role in anti-money laundering supervision?

ACCA is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. ACCA is also a professional body supervisor for the purposes of Anti-money Laundering; and ACCA is itself overseen by OPBAS.

The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (the “MLRs”) came into force on 26 June 2017. The MLRs have made the supervision of anti-money laundering measures more robust.  ACCA has a dedicated Anti-money Laundering supervisory team for this purpose.

Accountancy is one of the most respected professions in the world and ethics in accounting is of the utmost importance. The role of professional body supervisor adds to ACCA’s regulatory authority to ensure that the MLRs are observed by ACCA’s supervised population, and to take disciplinary action when the MLRs are breached or ignored.

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What is the whistleblowing line and email for?

The ACCA Whistleblowing line and email address have been set up to enable anyone to anonymously alert ACCA of non-compliance with the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 or any involvement by ACCA firms, members, affiliates or students in money laundering.

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What is money laundering and terrorist financing?

Money laundering includes all forms of using, possessing or concealing criminal property (as well as facilitating the use or possession) regardless of how it was obtained.

'Criminal property' is the proceeds of a person’s criminal activity and can take any form, examples of which are cash, property and securities and there are many more.

Money laundering can involve the proceeds of offences in the UK, but also of conduct overseas that would have been an offence had it taken place in the UK. There is no need for the proceeds to pass through the UK for it to be criminal property.

Money laundering also includes terrorist financing.

There is no minimum value for committing money laundering or terrorist financing (MLTF) offences.

Money laundering activity can include:

  • A single act (for example, possessing the proceeds of one’s own crime);
  • Complex and sophisticated schemes involving multiple parties;
  • Multiple methods of handling and transferring criminal property; or
  • Concealing criminal property or entering into arrangements to assist others to conceal criminal property.

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When should I make a report?

Immediately, if you are concerned that an ACCA firm is in breach of the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 OR if you know, suspect or are concerned about the conduct of an ACCA firm, member, affiliate or student, in the context of money laundering or terrorist financing.

ACCA encourages timely, responsible and lawful reports about what you know or suspect. Your report could help identify, stop or prevent reckless or dishonest behaviour which might pose a risk to the public. The sooner you make a report the better.

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What information should my report include?

Provide a summary to explain your suspicion and then provide a chronological sequence of events. Try to keep the content clear, concise and simple.

For example explain how you became aware of the situation, describe the events, activities and/or transactions that led you to be suspicious and how and why you became suspicious because of these.

To help when completing this section the following has taken from The National Crime Agency (NCA) guidance:

'As a guide when submitting a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR), wherever you can, try to answer the following six basic questions to make the information provided as useful as possible:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • How?

Remember to include:

  • the date of activity
  • the type of product or service
  • how the activity will, or has, taken place when documenting the reason for suspicion.

If you are suspicious because the activity deviates from the normal activity for that firm, member, affiliate or student, briefly explain how the activity that gave rise to your suspicion differs from the normal.'

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Can I make a report anonymously?

Yes, you can make an anonymous report.

Sometimes when a report is anonymous it becomes difficult to take supervisory or disciplinary action without formally relying on an open account from the person who made the report. If this should arise in respect of a report you make, we will discuss the matter with you.

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If I disclose my identity to ACCA when I make a report, but explain that I want to remain anonymous, will you protect my identity?

Yes. You can make your identity known to ACCA when you make a report, and ask us to keep your identity anonymous should you so wish.

Please let us know if you want your report to be anonymous. We will do what we can to protect your identity.

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If I am a member can I self-report?

If you are a sole-trader or a firm that is supervised for AML by ACCA you can self-report, or report actions by others which you think leave you exposed to potential investigation.

If you self-report and co-operate with ACCA, the fact you have done so will be taken into account in your favour as a mitigating factor, should disciplinary proceedings be appropriate.

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What will happen after I make a report?

If you make a report but later decide to withdraw it, ACCA may nevertheless proceed with an investigation if it is in the public interest to do so.

On receipt of your report, it will be assessed by an anti-money laundering Supervision Officer who will decide the most appropriate way to address the issues you have raised. You may be contacted during this time to discuss the report in more detail.

Members are generally entitled to know the identity of the person making a report against them. However, we appreciate that sometimes this is not appropriate, and you may request that ACCA refrain from sharing your identity with the member.

Please note, that depending on the circumstances, your identity may be immediately apparent from the report you have made; so you should let us know when making the report, if you have any concerns relating to the information or any documents you provide.

Sometimes, if we cannot disclose your identity, we may not be able to do anything about the conduct you have reported. In exceptional circumstances (for example where a complaint reveals a potential criminal matter), we may need to involve you, even if you have requested not to be identified, in which case we will seek to discuss this with you.

Sometimes a report will lead to a decision by ACCA’s Money Laundering Reporting Office to file a Suspicious Activity Report to the National Crime Agency.

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How will you use my data?

We may retain records of your identity within our own records. These may be shared with our providers during the course of any investigation, and in other appropriate circumstances referred to under Will you disclose information I provide to third parties? below.

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Will you disclose information I provide to third parties?

Information about you, or which you provide to us, may be disclosed to other parties such as the National Crime Agency and to our supervisor the Office for Professional Body Anti-money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS).

Should an investigation be conducted by the Investigations department with a view to taking disciplinary action, your information may be provided to independent assessors, Disciplinary Committees, legal advisers and third parties undertaking investigations on our behalf.  

The party named in your report may also make a subject access request to ACCA (see ‘Further information’), which may require us to disclose additional information relating to them. This right of access is subject to some exceptions, so please let us know any concerns in disclosing information you have provided. We will seek to maintain your anonymity where you have asked us to do so.

ACCA may also share the information you provide with other regulatory bodies where the report is about someone with dual membership, as well as the regulators that have oversight of ACCA.

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