As published on accountancytoday.co.uk, Thursday 9 June, 2022.
Concerns about money laundering have risen by 70% among accountants since Russian events and sanctions began, a new report has found. According to First AML, 75% of accountancy firms have made anti-money laundering a priority in the past year.
First AML, an end-to-end anti-money laundering software, surveyed 200 accountants and lawyers in the UK to find out more about attitudes toward current compliance and AML procedures.
While 53% of respondents identified an instance of suspected money laundering in the past three years, with 24% identifying more than one, only 45% of firms were “completely confident” in their AML procedures.
Some 91% also thought “companies need to embrace online technologies to aid compliance with AML regulations”. The report also found that 87% of respondents are putting more rigid policies in place to be compliant and meet AML regulations.
The reason for money laundering rising up on company agendas is thought to be “a focus on customer transparency and ethical customer onboarding”, according to 68% of the surveyed accountants. This followed by external risks (50%), such as the situation in Russia, as well as an increased risk of fines (46%).
According to First AML, 76% of respondents believe the threat will continue to get worse over the next three years. To deal with the threat of money laundering, 80% of respondents reported that they are turning to technology to become more compliant, while 53% said they were turning to outsourcing services, and 28% turning to hiring.
When asked what the main causes for concern were, the growth in online transactions (38%) was the most common answer. This was followed by the growth of unethical business practices (23%) and the Russian situation (18%).
Simon Luke, UK country manager of First AML, said: “Even before the Ukrainian conflict and Russian sanctions, the UK has been recognised as a hub for Russian money-laundering. Accountants and lawyers need quick, easy and accurate ways to onboard customers and complete financial transactions without fear.
“However, this is an industry-wide issue that impacts not just businesses, but also the economy and everyday Britons. That’s where First AML’s technology comes in, especially as countries globally call for tighter compliance in business.”