Money laundering: your role in stopping the criminals

29 January 2016

It’s not just accountancy firms and tax officials who have obligations in relation to money laundering. HMRC expects many others to play a role too.

As you might guess, your accountant is expected to be on the look-out for potential money-laundering and is obliged to report suspicious activity to the relevant authorities. In fact, we’re constantly being reminded of this responsibility by our professional body. It’s all part and parcel of ensuring that businesses and organisations observe the highest standards and conduct their affairs in a proper legal framework.

What’s less well known is that a number of other businesses are technically required to be registered with HMRC for the purposes of monitoring money-laundering too. These range from estate agents and car dealers through to jewellers and builders. In fact, any company which may take a cash payment equivalent to €15,000 or more.

If you don’t register at the correct time and have to be prompted by HMRC, you will be liable for a fine of £500.

There are essentially five categories of company that need to register:

Money Service Businesses

This is where you act as a bureau de change, transmit money or cash cheques. If you’re not already supervised by the Financial Conduct Authority for the purposes of the Money Laundering Regulations, you must register with HMRC.

High Value Dealers

You will be categorised as a High Value Dealer if you take a single cash payment of €15,000 or more or several cash payments adding up to this amount. Car and boat dealers, antique dealers and auctioneers may often fall into this category, along with bathroom and kitchen suppliers and builders.

Trusts or Company Service Providers

This refers to companies and sole practitioners who form companies, provide registered offices and business addresses or act in a number of similar capacities.

Accountancy Service Providers

Here, we’re not just talking about auditors, accountants and tax advisers, but also people who provide professional bookkeeping services and help prepare accounts.

Estate Agency Businesses

Are you acting on the instructions of a customer who wants to buy or sell commercial or residential property? Or are you introducing to a customer someone who wishes to buy or sell property? If so, you will need to be registered.

You can find more information at, but if you’re in any doubt of your responsibilities, it’s important to talk it over with your accountant.

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