Are Accountants Turning a Blind Eye to Dirty Money?

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Accountants are usually in positions where they can easily identify and report to the correct authorities suspicious activities. However, it seems like some may turn a blind eye either for personal gains or to stay out of troubles way.

Karen Baxter, police national lead on economic crime, said some accountants and lawyers were “complicit” or “complacent” in the laundering of “dirty” money and were undermining public trust in their professions.

At some point accountants and solicitors are in midst of a financial crime whether it be knowingly or unknowingly. According to the Karen, she is surprised at how little alerts are raised by some of these professionals when most proceeds of crime “at some point probably go through them.”

She brings 26 years of experience dealing with murderers and terrorist bombers in Northern Ireland and is looking to put in place a system where private sector banks, accountants, and solicitors work with her fraud teams, National Crime Agency (NCA) and cyber crime agencies on national and cross-border investigations to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

Karen cited figures, of the 470,000 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) submitted to NCA last year. Only 1.06 percent and 0.58 percent were submitted by accountants and solicitors.

New figures are soon to be published at the end of the year and we need more professionals in such sectors to submit SARs to their respective compliance governing organizations if we are going make any progress in combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

It reflects very poorly for those making an honest living in such professions when there are those benefiting from turning a blind eye and gaining personal benefits in the process.