Additional obligations of accounting offices in the fight against money laundering!
Not every accounting office and not every client are aware that the Act of March 1, 2018 on counteracting money laundering and terrorist financing (hereinafter: the Act) imposes certain additional obligations on the office in terms of registering and reporting transactions made by settled entities. In order to avoid mistakes and consequences of improper conduct, it is necessary to find out what additional obligations of accounting offices are imposed on them by the above Act.
An accounting office is an obligated institution - what does it mean?
The explanation of the concept of an obligated institution is included in Art. 2 of the Act. Pursuant to this provision, entities operating in the field of bookkeeping services (i.e. accounting offices) were included in the above definition together with other institutions, such as:
- entities operating in the field of currency exchange,
- investment companies,
- trust banks.
The act explicitly mentions the service entities keeping the books of accounts. This means that the accounting office settling only natural persons conducting business activity covered by simplified tax records (income and expense ledger) will not be subject to the regulations of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
Accounting office and the obligation to counteract money laundering
The additional obligations of accounting offices imposed on them are discussed above all in Art. 35 section 1 point 3 of the Act.
The obligated institutions apply financial security measures in the case of:
3.to carry out an occasional cash transaction of an amount equivalent to EUR 10,000 or more, whether the transaction is carried out as a single operation or several operations that appear to be linked "
The register of transactions kept by the accounting office should be kept for at least 5 years. Other additional obligations of accounting offices include providing information on registered transactions, in accordance with Art. 8 sec. 1 and 3, to the General Inspector of Financial Information. This transfer consists in sending (also with the use of IT data carriers) or direct delivery of data from the register of transactions.
Additional obligations of accounting offices in the field of anti-money laundering
In addition to keeping the register and informing the Inspector General, additional obligations of accounting offices (which should be treated as obligated institutions) include the introduction in the form of a written internal procedure for counteracting money laundering and terrorist financing. This procedure should specify, in particular, how:
- transaction registration,
- implementation of financial security measures,
- accepting statements about whether a client of the office is a politically exposed person, if any,
- risk analysis and assessment,
- providing information on transactions to the General Inspector,
- suspending transactions, blocking the account and freezing property values,
- information storage.
Additionally, under Art. 10a paragraph. 4 of the Act, the accounting office is to ensure the participation of employees performing duties related to counteracting money laundering and terrorist financing in the obligated institution in training programs related to these duties.
The deadline for providing information to the Inspector General
Information on transactions registered by the accounting office is provided to the Inspector General:
- within 14 days after the end of each calendar month - in the case of transactions referred to in Art. 8 sec. 1;
- immediately - in the case of transactions referred to in Art. 8 sec. 3.
Register of suspicious transactions kept by the accounting office
The notification of a suspected entity of money laundering submitted to the Inspector General should contain the data contained in the register kept, i.e .:
the date of the transaction;
identification data of the parties to the transaction:
in the case of natural persons and their representatives - recording the features of the document confirming the identity of the person on the basis of separate provisions, as well as the name, surname, citizenship and address of the person making the transaction, and also the PESEL numbers or date of birth in the case of a person without a PESEL number, or the number of the document confirming the identity of the foreigner or country code if a passport is presented;
in the case of legal persons - saving current data from an extract from the court register or other document indicating the name (company), organizational form of the legal entity, seat and address, tax identification number, as well as names, surnames and PESEL numbers or date of birth in the case of a person without a PESEL number, a person representing this legal person;
in the case of organizational units without legal personality - saving current data from a document indicating the name, organizational form, seat and its address, tax identification number, as well as name, surname and PESEL number or date of birth in the case of a person without a PESEL number, a person representing this unit ;
in the case of parties to the transaction who are not customers - entering their name (company) or first and last name and address, to the extent that the data may be determined by the obligated institution with due diligence;
amount, currency and type of transaction;
account numbers that were used to carry out the transaction, in the case of transactions involving such accounts;
justification and the place, date and method of placing the instruction in the case of providing information about the transaction referred to in Art. 8 sec. 3.
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Accounting office - watch out for penalties!
Accounting offices should become interested in the topic of counteracting money laundering, because failure to fulfill their tasks as an obligated institution may result in financial and criminal sanctions.
Art. 35 sec. 1
"Whoever, acting on behalf or in the interest of the obligated institution, contrary to the provisions of the Act, fails to fulfill the obligation:
1) registration of transactions, submission to the General Inspector of documents relating to this transaction or storage for the required period of the register of these transactions, or documents relating to this transaction,
2) maintaining financial security measures, in accordance with the procedure referred to in Art. 10a paragraph. 1, or storing information obtained in connection with the application of financial security measures,
3) notify the Inspector General of the transaction referred to in Art. 16 sec. 1,
shall be punishable by imprisonment of up to 3 years. "
If, however, the perpetrator of the above-mentioned act acts unintentionally, he is liable to a fine.
Entrepreneurs running an accounting office should therefore be aware of what additional obligations of accounting offices are imposed on them by other than strictly accounting and tax regulations. The clients of such institutions should also know about it, so as not to be surprised by the situations in which the accounting office will be obliged to register suspicious transactions made by them.