We all have a talent, and mine is words. I love reading and writing them, my spelling is pretty crash-hot, and if I am trying to remember something, I tend to see it as a word, e.g. “I’ve forgotten his name, but it’s seven letters long with a double letter in the middle and a y at the end”. So when I see a phrase like “anonymous publication”, my antennae twitch. Because it’s contradictory nonsense. But apparently not if you’re HMRC.
I have written before about how different AML supervisors are when it comes to sharing information about their AML activities. Some – take a bow, please, FCA, Gambling Commission and Guernsey Financial Services Commission – are excellent at putting out detailed information whenever they levy an AML penalty. The GC even adds a little section of “good practice” to each notice, drawing the attention of MLROs to the lessons that must be learned. Sadly, HMRC – which is the AML supervisor for estate agents, high value dealers and various other businesses and professions that are not supervised elsewhere – is rather more parsimonious with its information. I was therefore pleased to see in the recent update to the UK’s AML Regs that “where the Commissioners [of HMRC] give a notice under regulation 83 [disciplinary measures], they must, without undue delay, publish on their official website information on the type and nature of the breach and the identity of the person on whom the sanction or measure is imposed” (it’s section 85, to save you hunting).
Breath bated, I waited. (Sheer poetry.) And patience was rewarded on 4 October 2018 with this cheese-paring revelation:
- Between 26 June 2017 and 31 July 2018, HMRC levied penalties totalling £13.396.39 on four named businesses
- It also levied two “minor penalties” totalling £466.50.
And then there is this gnomic paragraph, under the heading “Anonymous publication”: “HMRC has decided that publishing the full identity of the business or individual would be disproportionate and is publishing anonymously. There are no details published for this period.” Does this mean that there are details but HMRC has decided not to publish them? Or that there are no anonymous details that would not have been published had they arisen? Sir Humphrey would be proud.