What are UK Anti Money Laundering Regulations?

Blog / UK Anti Money Laundering Regulations

The United Kingdom is a prominent player in the world of finance and is actively involved in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. Due to the size and complexity of its financial and real estate markets, the UK presents a higher risk of money laundering or terrorist financing. The country has implemented robust measures to combat financial crimes like fraud, money laundering, and terrorist financing. The UK's stringent AML regulations aim to detect and prevent these types of financial crimes.

What are the Primary UK Legislations Against Money Laundering? 

The UK's AML regulations are derived from several national and international legislations. These are the essential ones: 

  • The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017  
  • The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA)  
  • Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 

UK's AML Regulatory Authorities

As a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the UK aligns its AML framework with the FATF's recommendations. Also, several UK regulators and authorities work together to prevent financial crimes, such as money laundering and terrorist financing. The main objective of these regulations is to reduce the risks of money laundering and corruption in the economy by requiring anti money laundering checks in the UK. Institutions that fail to comply with these strict rules receive specific administrative penalties. UK's Regulators monitor and audit companies' anti-money laundering vulnerabilities and present their requirements accordingly.

Guide for anti-money laundering regulations and authorities in UK

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

One of the most important regulators in the UK is the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). FCA is responsible for regulating the financial services industry independently of the UK government. It aims to control the behavior of financial companies in the retail and wholesale sectors, including stock exchanges, investment, e-money organizations, payment institutions, banks, credit companies, asset managers, and building cooperatives. The FCA's regulations require implementing Customer Due Diligence (CDD) measures that adopt a risk-based approach to detect and prevent financial crimes, such as money laundering and terrorist financing.

In addition, every institution subject to the UK Money Laundering Regulations must meet its policy and procedural obligations to minimize laundering risk. A manager in institutions is required to manage anti-money laundering UK in law. Institutions should also have a Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) who focuses on AML activity and monitors compliance with AML obligations. According to FCA regulations, the most critical factor in fulfilling AML obligations is regularly conducting a risk assessment. It is essential to ensure that employees understand and follow these processes.

His Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

HMRC is the UK government's tax authority, responsible for collecting taxes, protecting the UK borders against illegal activities, and ensuring employers pay the minimum wage. In addition, HMRC works with FCA to investigate money laundering offenses and produces legislation to combat financial crime. HMRC institutions aim to verify customers' identity, follow the transactions' details, and have a responsible person within the organization oversee the AML regulations. It is imperative for financial institutions in the UK to submit a report on suspicious transactions detected.

The National Crime Agency (NCA)

NCA leads the way in preventing the activities of major organized crime in the UK. NCA collaborates with local and international partners to fight against money laundering, fraud, and terrorist financing threats. NCA can detect and arrest money launderers, making the UK a challenging environment for those who want to use it for money laundering. NCA aims to provide financial staff with training and insight to identify money laundering signs and develop new ways to identify criminals. It disrupts the techniques applied, recovers and seizes money laundering assets, and prevents the UK from abusing its financial system.

What are the Fundamental AML Regulations in the UK? 

Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA)

The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) is an important law in the UK focused on recovering and freezing assets obtained illegally. Its primary aim is to prevent criminals from hiding and using money obtained from illegal activities. Under the 2002 POCA, activities such as concealment and conversion of criminal property are considered criminal offenses. Institutions subject to these regulations must report any suspicious activities related to money laundering.

It is crucial for money laundering officers working in regulated institutions, such as banks, to report any suspicious activities, as failure to do so can lead to criminal charges for the institution and the individual responsible, potentially resulting in prison terms. POCA emphasizes the importance of measures such as Know Your Customer (KYC), Customer Due Diligence (CDD), and Transaction Monitoring for an effective AML Compliance Program. Implementing these procedures is essential in identifying suspicious activities and persons, which is key to preventing money laundering and terrorist financing risks.

The Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) for the UK

5AMLD aims to strengthen the EU's legal framework to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. As you mentioned, even though the UK left the EU, it still agreed to pursue this directive. 5AMLD introduces some new requirements, including the enhanced customer due diligence requirements for high-risk third countries, the establishment of central national bank account registers or retrieval systems, and the requirement to have access to such registers or systems. Additionally, 5AMLD requires Member States to maintain a list of beneficial ownership information of corporate and other legal entities that can be accessed by obliged entities, such as banks and other financial institutions, and other relevant authorities. This information aims to help these entities identify and prevent the misuse of legal entities for money laundering and terrorist financing. Overall, 5AMLD reflects the EU's commitment to combat money laundering and terrorist financing and emphasizes the importance of cooperation between Member States, obliged entities, and relevant authorities.

5AMLD aim to update and enhance 4AMLD with a focus on transparency, cooperation, and technology.

The Sixth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (6AMLD) for the UK

6AMLD came into force in December 2020, and regulations apply to businesses operating within the EU. This means that companies need to comply with the new regulations or face harsh penalties. 6AMLD provides a more exact definition of crimes and punishments, imposes criminal liability on legal persons and companies with harsher penalties, and requires businesses to cooperate in the prosecution of money laundering crimes.

In addition, 6AMLD alerts businesses to cybercrime and the financing of terrorism, which they must protect their customers against. With the rise of drug and human trafficking crimes and organized crime groups, UK regulators must always stay up-to-date to prevent these crimes.

The changes brought about by 6AMLD fall into several main categories for businesses. The first is cybersecurity, which was never mentioned in previous AMLDs. Therefore, businesses need to reduce the number of online crimes and pinpoint and address any potential money laundering activity. Cooperation is also crucial in the prosecution of crimes. If the offense occurs between two businesses, they must work together to identify the criminal and prosecute singly.

For the first time, companies can be held responsible for crimes. Legal persons can also be held accountable for the crime. Therefore, companies must conduct an enterprise-wide risk assessment to identify and effectively reduce risk. This includes reviewing internal controls and updating policies, procedures, and other relevant documents if necessary.

Perhaps one of the most important things companies must do is train their employees on the new directive. It has become more important than ever for regulated companies to have a robust reporting system, and everyone in the company should be aware of this.

Compliance With UK Money Laundering Law

Laws have been introduced in the UK to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, and many organizations are regulated accordingly. If these organizations do not comply with these regulations or delay compliance with anti money laundering act uk, competent authorities will initiate criminal proceedings, which may result in financial penalties depending on the nature and severity of the crime, and up to 14 years in prison. Regulated institutions should follow a risk-based approach to comply with these laws, which includes conducting risk assessments and risk management and establishing a unique AML Compliance Program.

To comply with AML laws, organizations should follow CDD procedures when dealing with new clients or organizations. This involves conducting Adverse Media, Politically Exposed Person (PEP), and Sanction screening to evaluate the risks of the people they work with and take necessary action. CDD procedures should be repeated periodically, and customers' transactions should be monitored through AML Transaction Monitoring procedures. Transaction Monitoring generates an alarm in case of suspicious transactions and notifies the institution. In such cases, the MLRO should prepare a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) and submit it to the NCA.

Detailed guidance to learn AML comppliance in the UK

Sanction Scanner's AML Solutions for The UK

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