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AML confused

Are we an MSB or ASP

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We have received yet another email from the AML department at HMRC. The email is standard and states that we must use the procedures for a MSB.

As we provide Accountancy services are HMRC incorrect to call us a MSB and are they incorrect to apply those rules to us. I am registered as an ASP under AML ?

Are HMRC staff aware of their own rules ? 

Posted as anonymous for obvious reasons .

Replies (10)

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By CJaneH
12th Jul 2019 11:22

I had difficulty understanding question until I looked up acronyms. To help other readers.

MCB = Money services Business = Transfer and conversion of money. If you do not do this HMRC must be wrong.
ASP = Accountancy Service provider = book keeping and accounts

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David Winch
By David Winch
14th Jul 2019 10:09

From the MLR 2017 Reg 3

“money service business” means an undertaking which by way of business operates a currency exchange office, transmits money (or any representation of monetary value) by any means or cashes cheques which are made payable to customers;

Fron the MLR 2017 Reg 11

“external accountant” means a firm or sole practitioner who by way of business provides accountancy services to other persons, when providing such services.

Which are you?


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By jwgrogan
15th Jul 2019 13:13

I am registered with HMRC as an ASP, not an MSB.

I too received the email below from HMRC on Friday.

Also, the addressee was one of my client companies who have nothing to do with MLR ! In fact all my MLR emails come mistakenly addessed to this client. I sent an email to the MLR team about this some months ago, to no effect.

Clearly Andrew Henderson has no idea what he is doing.


Dear XXX Ltd,

The services you provide as a money service business (MSB) are at high risk of being used by criminals to launder money and fund terrorist attacks.

What are your responsibilities?

The law requires you to have written policies, controls and procedures in place and ensure that your customers, employees and agents are who they say they are. Your requirements, outlined in the Money Laundering Regulations 2017, must be carried out by you and any people you employ. This is to help stop you from unwittingly becoming involved in criminal activity. Please make sure you follow the rules carefully.

As a registered MSB, all beneficial owners, officers and managers (BOOMs) of your business must pass HMRC’s Fit and Proper test. You are also responsible for ensuring that BOOMs of your agents are fit and proper.
.... etc, etc...

Yours sincerely,
Andrew Henderson

Customer Engagement Team
HMRC Anti Money Laundering Supervision "

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Replying to jwgrogan:
By raycad
18th Jul 2019 12:25

I received one of these, too. It could just be a failure at HMRC's end to properly distinguish between MSBs and ASPs on their database. But the cynic in me thinks it more likely to be the deliberate use of scare tactics by the AML Unit. Perhaps because they think issuing "gypsy's warnings" like these is sufficient to fulfil their AML supervisory role. I don't think they're staffed up to do actual AML "audits".

This "grouse beater" approach puts me in mind of the so-called "Nudge" letters which HMRC bombarded our clients with a few years ago when all they [we] had done was to claim loss relief! These were the letters that insinuated some kind of wrongdoing because the taxable income had gone down!! Flush 'em out!

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By jwgrogan
17th Jul 2019 10:43

I phoned HMRC today to try to find out what was going on with these incorrect MSB registration details . Not allowed to speak to anyone on the MLR team. Can only be dealt with by the call centre operator sending an email to the MLR team to ask them to contact me in the next 15 days if I'm lucky. Losing the will to live, or at least deal with HMRC.

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By johnjenkins
17th Jul 2019 11:44

I'm wondering if this could be something to do with CIS refunds. If you receive clients' CIS refund, take your bit and send client balance, that could explain it.

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By Roger Taylor
17th Jul 2019 12:56

Hi I am a Business Center providing postal address services ( Trust and company service provider TCSP) and i received the same email. I don't have anything to do with anybody's money? Go figure

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By Malcolm McFarlin
17th Jul 2019 18:57

I’m registered as an ASP and received the same email. Just deleted it suggest you do the same.

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David Winch
By David Winch
17th Jul 2019 21:05

At risk of stating the obvious, ASPs (Accountancy Service Providers) and TCSPs (Trust and Company Service Providers) are subject to the requirements of MLR 2017 and have as their Supervisory Body HMRC (unless they are supervised by one of the professional bodies such as ICAEW, ACCA, etc).
So although the letter incorrectly refers to MSBs most of the content of the letter regarding the requirements of the MLR 2017 will be correct in relation to ASPs and TCSPs.
What, of course, is different for MSBs is that the money laundering risks they face are likely to be considerably greater. That should be reflected in the 'whole firm' and 'individual client' risk assessments (which should be documented) and an MSB is much more likely to be frequently submitting Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) to the National Crime Agency (NCA).
So my advice would be, don't disregard the letter just because you are an ASP or TCSP rather than an MSB.
If you think that any of the requirements mentioned in the letter do NOT apply to you then check either the MLR 2017 themselves or the HMRC guidance specifically for ASPs or TCSPs

If it helps, the BOOMs stuff is not wholly accurate in relation to ASPs and TCSPs (see Regs 26 & 58) as "agents" should not be mentioned.

Thanks (1)
By Blue1
19th Jul 2019 14:24

Hello to all regarding this.

I phoned the helpline for anti-money laundering to question this which I found was basically a section with the VAT section. I too received an email regarding being an MSB. The AML department has just sent me an email saying: 'The email you have received in relation to being a Money Service Business, I do apologise this message has been sent out incorrectly. When checking your application status I can confirm the business activity you have selected is showing as accountancy service provider, if this is correct then you do not need to take any further action.' I would suggest that you all phone 0300 200 3700. This is now the number for all businesses covered by Money Laundering Regulations for advice it says, not just to report. Hope this helps.

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