What’s in a name?

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as to the prohibited act, the reporter has acknowledged that they have misinterpreted the meaning of ‘consent’ and has withdrawn their DAML request.”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.

This entry was posted in Due diligence, Legislation, Money laundering and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What’s in a name?

  1. Mik Underdown says:

    GFSC (Guernsey) seem to be combining AML and CFT with B&C under the new term PFC (prevention of financial crime). MLROs are becoming FCROs and Compliance Officers will be FCCOs.

    Susan, to parallel Ihatemoneylaundering lets start a blog IhateTLAs

    (three-letter acronyms…..)

    • Thank you for your comment, Mik, and welcome to the blog. I’m rather concerned about having to say FCCO in a rush – who knows how it might turn out! And yes, TLAs are one of the banes of modern life, IMO.

  2. CDWOS says:

    There is an argument (dinosaur that I am!!) that they should leave well alone as the “reporters” as practitioners generally understand far more clearly what can and cannot happen or be done than those to whom ‘disclosures’ are made. Maybe a bit of gentle education or training would achieve significantly greater positive results than playing with labels. It surprises me that many of these bodies do not appear to look at every possible connotation and how the new label or its acronym could be misused and misunderstood before making a final decision.
    We are seeing something equivalent in the GDPR arena in Britain’s South Sea Island!! with the use of SAR for Subject Access Request as well as the long standing and well understood Suspicious Activity Report. I have publicly made the point to an array of those who could change the GDPR version to SDAR (Subject Data Access Request) to avoid any confusion and undermine years of AML training but so far to no avail (other than sympathetic and understanding noises from those being addressed with vocal agreement from participants at such gatherings). We will no doubt find out shortly whether any traction has been gained for the suggested change of terminology!!

  3. Heavens – it’s taken us years to get people to say SAR instead of STR, and now they do this. All I can say is (in the best tradition of Eliza Doolittle) GAR!

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