CCAB launches manifesto to fight economic crime

justice
By Ellen Arnison, CA Today

6 October 2016

The collective of five accountancy bodies is urging the government to lead by example in tackling money laundering.

The first Manifesto for Fighting Economic Crime has been published by CCAB, the collective of five accountancy bodies - ICAEW, ACCA, CIPFA, ICAS and Chartered Accountants Ireland. 

It highlights four key public policy areas that could be improved to make the UK’s anti-money laundering (AML) more effective, as well as a series of case studies.

Economic crime undermines that trust – fatally so if we allow it.

Anthony Harbinson, CCAB Chairman and Director of Safer Communities, Northern Ireland Department of Justice said: “The threat from economic crime has never been more pressing. Enormous sums of money are lost to fraud and corruption every year, but these crimes also cripple lives as well as livelihoods.

“Economic criminals – especially the organised variety – are ruthless and determined. Many of them possess great skill, ingenuity and cunning.

“The bedrock of our economy and prosperity depends a great deal on the trust and integrity of financial systems. Economic crime undermines that trust – fatally so if we allow it.”

Message for government

CCAB is urging the UK government to take the lead in strengthening the AML regime, especially as the UK considers next steps towards Brexit.

It has created a clear and achievable four-point plan to help tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.

“The government needs to strengthen the national AML infrastructure – which needs specialist advice and support to ensure this infrastructure is built on solid ground. Professionally trained and qualified accountants are part of the solution to tackling AML,” added Mr Harbison

CCAB recommends:

  • Establishing a central information resource able to provide evidence of identity that would help safeguard the economy and eliminate unnecessary cost.
  • Creating an intelligence portal whereby regulators and members of law enforcement authorities can share information on suspicious individuals or entities. This would help  to cement a true private-public crime-fighting partnership.
  • Conceiving a system for prioritising suspicious activity reports would help to target law enforcement resources more efficiently.
  • By giving statutory recognition to ‘accounting services’, this could ensure that all accountants are appropriately qualified and regulated. This move would promote trust in the ‘gatekeepers’ of the economy by raising their skills and standards and making sure that all ‘gates’ are guarded with equal vigilance.

Case studies

Accompanying the Manifesto are a series of case studies, showing how wide and varied economic crime can be and how professional accountants may become unwittingly involved. 

The case studies help identify and explain the ways where professional accountants may become unwittingly involved in economic crime, or even come into close professional contact with individuals and groups who are undertaken criminal activities.

The case studies also include scenarios where readers are asked to consider the situation in which a professional accountant finds themselves – including cybercrime, money laundering and investment fraud. The document also includes a glossary so that readers can understand some of the terminology related to economic crime.

We want to help make the UK’s AML defences as effective as possible and we firmly believe that the changes outlined in this manifesto will help bring that about.

Anthony Harbinson concluded: “While this manifesto is aimed at government, CCAB also recognises that the profession – professional bodies and their members - have a vital role in combatting economic crime.

“We need to play our part and CCAB is committed to ensuring this happens. We are part of the solution, with a commitment to report any identified or suspected money laundering activity to the Anti-Money Laundering Authorities, such as the National Crime Agency.

“Individual accountants, their firms and their supervisors take their AML responsibilities very seriously but there is always room for improvement. Despite the Brexit vote result, we need to ensure that the UK government does not isolate itself from EU policy making and developments to the Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

“We want to help make the UK’s AML defences as effective as possible and we firmly believe that the changes outlined in this manifesto will help bring that about.”

Source: CCAB

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