Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS)
The Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) is a new regulator set up by the government to strengthen the UK’s anti-money laundering (AML) supervisory regime and ensure the professional body AML supervisors provide consistently high standards of AML supervision.
Background to OPBAS
The Government has established OPBAS as part of a wider package of reforms to strengthen the AML supervisory regime in the United Kingdom.
The OPBAS Regulations 2018 came into effect on 18 January 2018 and give OPBAS duties and powers to ensure the professional body AML supervisors meet the standards required by the Money Laundering Regulations 2017. OPBAS is housed within FINMSA and will facilitate collaboration and information sharing between the professional body AML supervisors, statutory supervisors, and law enforcement agencies.
OPBAS aims to improve consistency of professional body AML supervision in the accountancy and legal sectors, but does not directly supervise legal and accountancy firms.
The professional body AML supervisors overseen by OPBAS are listed in Schedule 1 to the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 (MLR 2017):
- Association of Accounting Technicians
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
- Association of International Accountants
- Association of Taxation Technicians
- Chartered Institute of Legal Executives/ CILEx Regulation
- Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
- Chartered Institute of Taxation
- Council for Licensed Conveyancers
- Faculty of Advocates
- Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury
- General Council of the Bar / Bar Standards Board
- General Council of the Bar of Northern Ireland
- Insolvency Practitioners Association
- Institute of Certified Bookkeepers
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
- Institute of Financial Accountants
- International Association of Bookkeepers
- Law Society / Solicitors Regulation Authority
- Law Society of Northern Ireland
- Law Society of Scotland
OPBAS does not supervise:
- members of professional bodies, such as firms, accountants and solicitors, or any other type of business subject to the requirements of the Money Laundering Regulations 2017;
- statutory anti-money laundering supervisors such as the Gambling Commission and HM Revenue and Customs;
- activity carried out by professional body supervisors outside the UK; and
- the adequacy of any functions performed by professional body supervisors unrelated to AML supervision – this includes any oversight of their members’ controls over other types of financial crime, such as those related to the prevention of fraud, improving data security and the implementation of financial sanctions and asset freezes.
New professional body supervisors
If a professional body wishes to become a professional body AML supervisor, it should apply to OPBAS. OPBAS will consider whether an applicant body meets the standards expected of AML supervisors set out in the MLRs, and recommend to the Treasury whether the legislation should be amended to give the body the formal role.