OPBAS: New UK Anti-Money Laundering Regulator

OPBAS: New UK Anti-Money Laundering Regulator

The Government have announced plans to launch a new anti-money laundering watchdog, the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) that will sit within the FCA. OPBAS will complement the new money laundering regulations which aims to bring the UK’s AML and CFT regime into line with those of international standards. 

What will OPBAS do?

  • Develop a thorough understanding of the workings of the different organisations it will scrutinize – through open dialogue.
  • Adopt a risk-based approach to supervision. (OPBAS judgement about risk will be influenced by supervisory findings).
  • Collaborate with other bodies with oversight roles for profession to share good practice with the intention of ironing out inconsistencies and gaps that are evident across different AML guidelines.

Overall Objectives OPBAS:

  • Promote collaboration and information sharing between professional body supervisors, statuary supervisors, law enforcement agencies etc.
  • Ensure professional bodies meet the AML standards.
  • Make it both, increasingly difficult and more costly for criminals to benefit from their crimes.

What powers have OPBAS been given? 

  • Information gathering powers.
  • Powers to commission a Skilled Person to produce an independent report.
  • Direction issuing powers – OPBAS have the power to contact professional body supervisors directly with purpose of ensuring compliance with (or remedying) a failure to comply with money laundering and terrorist financing regulations.

Expectations of OPBAS:

  • Professional body supervisors to allocate responsibility for managing AML. There must be evidence that senior management are actively engaged with this work.
  • Appropriate reporting and escalation of any suspicious activity found. It is heavily emphasized that the structure of a professional body should encourage and promote coordination and internal information sharing, and effective decision making through delegation of powers to it’s staff.