Name changes are a tricky thing. Remember when Royal Mail decided to call itself Consignia? That lasted for about a year until it was quietly shelved. (Mind you, Brad’s Drink was renamed Pepsi-Cola in 1898, and that seems to have stuck.) And so it is with some concern that I note that the UK FIU – the National Crime Agency – would rather we stopped talking about “consent”, and referred instead to “DAML”, or “defence against money laundering”.
To be fair, it’s not just a cosmetic change for the sake of fashion, or a cynical attempt to fool buyers into thinking they’re getting something new. As explained in the NCA’s “SARs Annual Report 2017” (published on 11 October 2017): “The UKFIU introduced the term ‘DAML’ as it had found that the term ‘consent’ was being frequently misinterpreted by reporters [by which they mean MLROs making reports – not newspaper johnnies]. The term ‘DAML’ is aimed at educating reporters and improving submissions by clarifying what the UKFIU can/cannot grant.” Alongside the DAML there is also the DATF – but you’re ahead of me here.
So how is the rebranding going? Again from the annual report: “The UKFIU has received positive examples of how the new DAML process has been influencing reporter behaviour, in particular instances where, after the UKFIU has requested clarification as to the prohibited act, the reporter has acknowledged that they have misinterpreted the meaning of ‘consent’ and has withdrawn their DAML request.” And so let’s compare year on year, and look at the number of consent SARs made in the period October 2015 to September 2016 with the number of DAML SARs made in the period October 2016 to September 2017. There were 17,909 consent SARs and 14,465 DAML SARs, so that’s a decrease of 19%. Perhaps MLROs are getting a clearer picture of what the NCA will and will not grant. But it’s not that simple: in the first period 6.94% of consent SARs were refused, and in the second, 9.37% of DAML SARs were refused. If MLROs really knew what was expected and permitted, surely nearly all DAML SARs would be granted – not a (significantly) decreasing proportion of them.
But of course it is early days yet – personally I have yet to hear an MLRO use the phrase “DAML” rather than “consent”. It may be some time before we know whether the NCA has a Royal Mail or a Brad’s Drink on its hands.