Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS)

The Government established OPBAS as part of its reforms to strengthen the UK's anti-money laundering (AML) supervisory regime. OPBAS supervises the 25 professional body supervisors (PBSs) in the legal and accountancy sectors.

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Who we are

OPBAS is housed within the FCA and our key objectives are to reduce the harm of money laundering and terrorist financing by:

  1. ensuring a robust and consistently high standard of supervision by the PBSs overseeing the legal and accountancy sectors
  2. facilitating collaboration and information and intelligence sharing between PBSs, statutory supervisors and law enforcement agencies

The OPBAS Regulations 2017 give us powers to ensure that PBSs meet the standards required by the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 (MLRs).

OPBAS sourcebook

Our sourcebook provides guidance for PBSs on how they can meet their obligations:

View OBPAS sourcebook

We've analysed our progress so far in our 201920202020/21 and 2022/23 reports.

Contacting us

If you have any questions, please email [email protected].

Beware scams

If you get an email, letter or phone call from someone claiming to work for us, it’s important you consider the possibility that it could be scam. OPBAS would never ask you to transfer money to us. We would also never ask for sensitive banking information, such as bank account PINs and passwords. Find out more about fake OPBAS/FCA emails.

PBSs that we oversee

Accountancy Legal
Association of Accounting Technicians Chartered Institute of Legal Executives/ CILEx Regulation
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Council for Licensed Conveyancers
Association of International Accountants Faculty of Advocates
Association of Taxation Technicians Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants General Council of the Bar / Bar Standards Board
Chartered Institute of Taxation General Council of the Bar of Northern Ireland
Institute of Certified Bookkeepers Law Society / Solicitors Regulation Authority
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales Law Society of Northern Ireland
Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland Law Society of Scotland
Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland  
Institute of Financial Accountants  
International Association of Bookkeepers  
Insolvency Practitioners Association  

What OPBAS does not supervise

  • members of professional bodies, such as firms, accountants and solicitors, or any other type of business subject to the requirements of the MLRs
  • statutory anti-money laundering supervisors such as the Gambling Commission and HM Revenue and Customs
  • activity carried out by PBSs outside the UK
  • the adequacy of any functions performed by PBSs unrelated to AML supervision, including any oversight of their members’ controls over other types of financial crime, such as those related to the prevention of fraud, improving data security and the implementation of financial sanctions and asset freezes

Becoming a PBS

An entity wishing to become a PBS must apply to us using the application form and accompanying notes.

We will consider whether the relevant entity meets the standards expected of AML supervisors set out in the MLRs, and will recommend to the Treasury whether the legislation should be amended to assign a formal role for the entity.

OPBAS report: Progress and themes from our 2022/23 supervisory work

We have published findings on the progress made by professional body supervisors (PBSs) in tackling money laundering as of March 2023.  

The report finds that PBSs continue to demonstrate good levels of compliance with their obligations under the Money Laundering Regulations and deliver iterative improvements in effectiveness. However, improvements in effectiveness are still not consistent in pace or scale across all PBSs. OPBAS will continue to take proactive steps to enhance the effectiveness and speed of progress of the PBSs' AML supervision. 

OPBAS’s work links directly to the FCA’s Business Plan commitment to reduce and prevent financial crime and sits in the context of wider Government reforms to strengthen the UK AML regime.   

Reg 46A reports

Professional Body Supervisors (PBSs) are required under Regulation 46A of the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 to publish annual reports detailing their anti-money laundering/counter terrorist financing supervisory activities.

We have published joint OPBAS and HM Treasury letters sent to PBSs relating to these reports:

TCSP review

We have published findings from a multi-PBS project on Trust and Company Service Provider (TCSP) risk.  

Evidence has shown that TCSPs can be exploited to allow millions to be laundered through the UK’s financial system. Our report aims to help legal and accounting professional bodies improve their supervision of their respective sectors, as they play a crucial role in preventing financial crime.

We will continue to work with the wider financial crime community to make sure the findings contained in this report help deliver a stronger and more consistent standard of TCSP supervision.

Risk identification and verification work

We wrote to Professional Body Supervisors (PBSs) with our views in June 2023, following work focused on risk identification and verification.

SRA consultation on financial penalties

We view the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), and all PBSs, as playing an essential role in reducing the risk of money laundering through the effective supervision of its members.

In our 2020/21 report we observed gaps in most PBS enforcement frameworks. We expect:

  • all PBSs to ensure that their members are liable to effective, proportionate and dissuasive disciplinary action
  • the SRA, and PBSs more generally, to establish a credible and robust fining framework

In November 2021, the SRA consulted on its approach to financial penalties. In March 2022, we wrote to the SRA with our view on this consultation.

OPBAS resources

Page updates

: Link added OPBAs and HMT letter April 2024
: Link changed Broken links fixed
: Link changed FATF guidance on risk-based approach to supervision
: Information added Letter to Professional Body Supervisors
: Publication added Supervisory progress and themes report 2022/23
: Information added TCSP review report
: Editorial amendment Updates to page features for website refresh.
: Information added SRA consultation on financial penalties
: Document added OPBAS Update: Regulation 46A (Publication of Annual Reports)