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HMRC internal manual

Money Laundering Regulations: Compliance

HM Revenue & Customs
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Compliance checks not involving visits: Telephone interventions continued

For a telephone intervention to be successful CIT Compliance Officers must know what they want to ask and why and should remember the purpose of the intervention is to gather the facts. CIT Compliance Officers should use the telephone script and questionnaire to help them. Irrespective of the reason for the intervention the process should be the same. CIT Officers should also be prepared for any potential questions or challenges they may encounter based on the risks that have been identified.

Once a compliance officer has obtained information on the telephone regarding the business’s risk based policies and procedures they should check the information recorded to establish whether the appropriate questions have been asked and most importantly whether the responses are recorded accurately. This is extremely important because these may be needed as evidence at a tribunal.

The purpose of the CIT questionnaire should help CIT Compliance Officers obtain as much information as possible on first contact and within the time available. It may be necessary to follow up the first contact with a second telephone call because the business is not in a position to immediately answer all the questions or because the table identifies that they have not got enough information to carry out the risk assessment. It is good practice to have a diary ready so that officers can agree a mutually convenient time for the follow up call.

In addition to planning the Intervention there are several telephone interviewing techniques which will assist CIT Compliance Officers, these include:

  • adopting a more conversational approach allowing questions to flow more naturally, do not necessarily adhere to the order of questions you plan to ask.
  • phrase questions in such a way that the business will have to give more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer (for example, you should ask ‘When did you stop trading”? rather than ‘Are you still trading”?
  • make sure that you cover all items on the questionnaire.
  • listen carefully to what the business has to say
  • avoid being distracted by planning your next question; you may miss a vital point
  • do not simply accept the first answer you are given. Ask yourself whether it is consistent with previous answers, other information that you hold.

CIT officers will not be able to obtain sufficient evidence during a telephone Intervention to issue a penalty notice. If there is enough evidence to indicate that the business has not put in place adequate anti money laundering systems or processes or that they are not operating properly then this should be recorded on MICRA. The RTT should decide having undertaken a risk assessment whether a visit should be carried out to identify the full extent of any non-compliance and explain any areas of concern and agree any action that the business needs to take.

Officers should remember that risk assessment should precede and inform all aspects of their supervision, including

  • interventions
  • data collection and other information requirements,
  • advice and support and
  • enforcement and sanctions