Last week was the implementation date for the fourth EU Money Laundering Directive (MLD4); time to see if preparations are up to scratch or whether a flurry of FCA fines will be issued. John Marsden, Head of ID and Fraud at Equifax had this to say.
The rise in high profile fines for failing to maintain money laundering defences proves that this issue is a key regulatory priority. Financial penalties for big players have pushed other industry giants to get their anti-money laundering procedures in shape. Aware that they’ll be in the FCA’s firing line, many big financial institutions will be ready to face a regulatory assessment of their MLD4 compliance processes.
The same can’t be said for smaller firms, where many have been slower on the regulation uptake. It’s arguably unfamiliar territory for the FCA to hone in on smaller businesses, but with anti-money laundering so high on the agenda economically and politically, this time could be different. While a traditional approach would target the bigger banks, smaller financial institutions could be subject to a series of warning shots in the form of audits, investigations and sanctions, should the regulator suspect they are failing to comply with MLD4. As a final step, a hefty fine could be issued which would have a significant financial impact on smaller businesses.
The UK will remain under the spotlight for domestic and international corruption, and regulated firms of all sizes need to ensure their protocols match the regulatory requirements. Companies have had ample time to accept and prepare for their role in the fight against money laundering as it continues to damage the UK economy. If they can’t demonstrate their compliance they risk significant financial and reputational damage. MLD5 is set to go ahead next year, heralding further changes – companies must ensure they don’t fall behind in their responsibility to tackle financial crime.