The government of UK has announced plans to launch a new anti-money laundering watchdog in order to tighten its defences against money laundering and terrorist financing.

The proposed Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) will sit within the existing Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

It will aim to strengthen the oversight of the laws, which is currently done by 25 different organisations, of which 22 are professional bodies for the accountancy and legal services sectors.

The treasury said that the supervision by different organisations often leads to inconsistencies that are exploited for criminals, a loophole which OPBAS will aim to close. OPBAS will have powers to penalise sectoral bodies for anti-money laundering rule violations.

OPBAS will be funded through a new fee on professional body supervisors, and will be operational by early 2018.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury Simon Kirby said: “The new Money Laundering Regulations and the new Office for Professional Body AML Supervision will bring the UK’s anti-money laundering regime into line with the latest international standards, and ensure consistently high standards of supervision across all sectors, sending a strong message that money laundering and terrorist financing should not and will not be tolerated.”

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