On March 15, HM Treasury unveiled plans to create a new UK watchdog for tackling potential weaknesses in the supervisory system that criminals and terrorists may be trying to exploit.

The new “Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision” (OPBAS) will focus its work on accountancy and legal sectors with the goal of helping to improve the overall standards of supervision and ensure that supervisors (such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA)) and law enforcement work together more effectively.

The Treasury states that OPBAS will complement the updated Money Laundering Regulations, published in draft on March 15, which seek to make the UK’s anti-money laundering and counter financing for terrorism regimes consistent with the latest international standards.

OPBAS will operate within the FCA’s existing governance arrangements. It will be funded through a new fee on the professional body of anti-money laundering supervisors and legislated for by the end of the year. OPBAS should be operational by the start of 2018. The changes are being introduced in response to the “Call for Information on the AML Supervisory Regime and the Cutting Red Tape Review of the UK’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Regime,” first published in April 2016.

The “Call for Information” and press release announcing the establishment of OPBAS are available here and here.