As you are surely aware, the UK is currently convulsed (almost to the point of turning itself inside out) by a frenzy of self-analysis. And AML has not escaped the mood of introspection: on 8 March 2019, the House of Commons’ Treasury Committee published a report titled “Economic Crime: Anti-money laundering supervision and sanctions implementation”, including evidence heard by the Committee and summarising their suggestions as to what could be done to improve both the UK’s response to economic crime and its AML regime. It’s a substantial report – nearly eighty pages in length – and much of what it says about the UK’s shamefully fragmented and inefficient (and, more worryingly, ineffective) AML supervisory regime has been said before, not least by me. But there are other nuggets of loveliness, looking at such issues as PEPs, de-risking and SARs, and in a couple of these areas the Committee takes a remarkably common-sense approach.
When considering PEPs, for instance, the report acknowledges that a difficulty remains with deciding who is and who is not a PEP, regardless of the regular attempts to define them in legislation. Databases are available but, as the report says, these commercial solutions “may be beyond the resources of very small companies”. This of course creates another risk, as the savvy corrupt PEP might well take his business to a firm that will be (a) dazzled by the prospect of such an illustrious client and (b) unable to check his true status and risk categorisation. The Committee’s suggestion? “We recommend that the Government creates a centralised database of PEPs for the use of those registered by AML supervisors.” Hardly imaginative, and it has been suggested to me many times in the past, but it would be – I think – the first such government database in the world.