Negligent or unwitting accountants risk becoming involved in money laundering as they are attractive to criminals, according to the Treasury.
The Treasury’s second national risk assessment (NRA) of money laundering and terrorist financing activities in the UK says that accountancy services appeal to criminals as they can help them gain legitimacy, create corporate structures or transfer value.
The NRA says that progress has been made since the 2015 NRA regarding tackling money laundering.
But it adds: “Some of those accountants involved in money laundering cases are assessed to be complicit or wilfully blind to money laundering risks, though the majority of these cases are likely to involve criminal exploitation of negligent or unwitting professionals.’’
The areas of accountancy judged to be at highest risk of being exploited by criminals are the creation and operation of companies, facilitating financial transactions and tax evasion. According to the Treasury, accountancy services have also been exploited to give legitimacy to falsified accounts or the concealing of the source of funds.
Aziz Rahman, founder of Rahman Ravelli, said that the dangers of money laundering are ever-present for accountants.
He added: “We have been warning accountants for years – and giving advice to them – about the need to look for the signs of money laundering. They have to have procedures in place to help recognise potential laundering and ensure they react to it in the appropriate way.
“Failure to do this can be immensely damaging to an accountant’s reputation, professional standing and earning prospects – not to mention putting them at risk of a criminal prosecution.’’
Read our article: MONEY LAUNDERING AND THE ACCOUNTANT