With all eyes on the Fourth Money Laundering Directive, I will confess that I had lost track of the UK’s AML/CFT National Risk Assessment – and then it appeared last week. There’s plenty of meat in it and it’s perfectly readable so I’ll leave you to it, but something that caught my eye was this: “The effectiveness of the supervisory regime in the UK is inconsistent… The large number of professional body supervisors in some sectors risks inconsistencies of approach. Data is not yet shared between supervisors freely or frequently enough, which exposes some supervised sectors where there are overlaps in supervision.”
I could not agree more. When I talk about America – which I do infrequently – I nearly always find myself saying, “Of course, they have a very fragmented approach to AML supervision” – and then I have to stop myself. Who am I to talk, when you look at the situation here in the UK? Appendix A to the NRA lists “bodies currently designated as AML/CFT supervisors under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (as amended)” – and there are twenty-seven of them. Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, anyone? (According to its website, its “functions are now threefold: the issue of Special Marriage Licences, the regulation of the Notarial profession and the legal work for the awarding by the Archbishop of ‘Lambeth’ Degrees”. Who knew? I feel a “University Challenge” question coming on.)
I do understand that the UK is a complex financial centre offering the full range of services, and therefore having just one AML supervisory agency, as works in some smaller jurisdictions, is probably unrealistic. But twenty-seven? I have worked with a handful of them, and I can agree that there are “inconsistencies of approach”: putting it bluntly, some are pretty hot on AML, while others barely know what it means. I would certainly campaign for a concentration of supervisory duties in a few capable hands and, at the risk of eternal damnation, perhaps would not recommend Mr Welby – the Primate of all England and Metropolitan should surely have his mind on higher beings than notaries.