New AML supervisory body OPBAS to be created

Alongside publication of HM Treasury’s decision to exempt all gambling service providers from the requirements of the 4th EU Money Laundering Directive – on which we reported yesterday and David Clifton was quoted in an SBC News article – it has also been announced that the Government intends to create the new Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (“OPBAS”) in order to “help improve the overall standards of supervision and ensure supervisors and law enforcement work together more effectively”.

The Government announcement (that can be downloaded below) further states that “having several organisations supervising the same sectors and issuing guidance can lead to inconsistencies which criminals may look to exploit”. It appears to be focussed primarily on the financial services sector but reference is also made to OPBAS having an overarching responsibility to strengthen the UK’s supervisory regime by improving coordination between AML supervisors and with law enforcement.

We await to learn what effect, if any, OPBAS will have in due course on the Gambling Commission’s AML guidance for casinos and its POCA Advice for operators other than casino operators, also taking into account in the case of casinos, the following principles within the Financial Action Task Force Risk-Based Approach Guidance for Casinos:

  • Para 95: “The supervisory goal is not to prohibit high risk activity, but rather to be confident that firms have adequately and effectively implemented appropriate risk mitigation strategies”.
  • Para 98: “In the implementation of proportionate actions, regulatory transparency will be of paramount importance”
  • Para 99: “In the absence of this transparency there is the danger that supervisory actions may be perceived as either disproportionate or unpredictable which may undermine even the most effective application of the risk-based approach by casinos”.

The Government has published a call for further information on the AML Supervisory Regime, containing reference to the Gambling Commission at paragraphs 3.21 and 3.22. It invites submission of comments by 26 April 2016.

Download article PDF: Government plans to create OPBAS