When Brexit is simply too, too depressing, I remind myself that in my own little world at least nothing much is changing. Cambridge – where I live – is as cosmopolitan and outward-looking as ever, and the Fifth Money Laundering Directive trundles inexorably towards us. Yes: even though the People Have Spoken (clarification: but not in my house or indeed hearing) and said they want no more of this EU nonsense, we still have to absorb MLD5 as its transposition deadline of 10 January 2020 will fall within the UK’s Brexit implementation period. And HMG wants our thoughts on how to do this. (Well, if we’re honest, they probably don’t, but modern democracy being what it is, they have to ask.) The consultation on the transposition of MLD5 into our domestic legislation was launched on 15 April and runs until 10 June 2019, so you have a bit of time to gather your thoughts. I will of course be making my usual fulsome representations – I can imagine the epidemic of eye-rolling that grips the Treasury when my multi-megabyte email arrives – but I have allowed myself a sneak preview, and it’s going to be fun.
For instance, as we know MLD5 requires the inclusion of “art intermediaries” in the AML family – at the moment, art dealers may be included if they accept large cash payments and thereby qualify as high value dealers, but in the new regime, they will be in regardless of how they take payment. Of course, anyone in the AML family must be overseen by a supervisory body to check that they are doing their AML work properly. And regular readers will know that we in the UK have the most crazy and inefficient AML supervisory regime (about which I have opined before). So I can quite understand that creating yet another AML supervisor for art intermediaries is not a good idea. But neither is the suggested solution: “The Treasury considers HMRC as a supervisor suited to the role of regulating art intermediaries, given their current supervision of high value dealers.” You mean their current ineffective, light-touch and generally rubbish supervision of HVDs? And given that in June 2018 their boss Jon Thompson told the House of Commons Treasury Committee that he wasn’t sure HMRC should be doing AML supervision at all? Why yes: that sounds like the perfect agency to take it on.
My, I’m looking forward to crafting my response to this consultation. I think I will set aside a whole day and a box of Jaffa Cakes to do it justice.