Anti-money laundering

Plans to build bank account portal cancelled

The Home Office has decided not to build a bank account portal following a review of its likely costs and benefits.

The EU’s 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5MLD), transposed into national law in January 2020, requires states to create a centralised automated register of bank account ownership.

A bank account portal would help law enforcement and anti-money laundering supervisors to access information on the identity of holders and beneficial owners of:

  • bank accounts
  • payment accounts
  • safe-deposit boxes

The government first scoped building a portal in 2019 but chose not to go ahead because of the high costs involved.

Following the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and EU in January 2021, the Home Office again reviewed whether to go ahead with the portal.

It worked with a consultant to carry out an assessment into the costs and benefits of a portal.

The government has since concluded that:

  • the possible efficiency benefits of a portal were uncertain
  • a register might not deliver the level of change needed
  • building a portal would be costly to the public and private sectors

We welcome the cancellation, as it avoids imposing further regulatory burdens on firms and adding to compliance costs.

The Home Office plans to ask HM Treasury to remove the requirement from domestic legislation at the next opportunity, to end any remaining portal obligations on the regulated sector.

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