What is a Suspicion?

What is a Suspicion?

One of the biggest problems that people face is that the legislation, which is the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Acts 2010 to 2021, does not define the term ‘suspicion’.

When it comes to reporting people that they think may be suspicious they feel that they’re not quite certain whether what they’re feeling is actually a suspicion. The very nature of a suspicion is that it is an emotion and therefore very personal, and it can be difficult to give any hard definitions of the word.

It may be helpful to look at a spectrum of potential definitions of the word, which may range in order of certainty from:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Unease
  3. Doubt
  4. Concern
  5. Suspicion
  6. Belief
  7. Knowledge

One should also be careful to remember that thanks to the personal nature of suspicion, it doesn’t have to be shared. So just because person X is suspicious doesn’t mean that person Y should also be. And just because person Y is not suspicious doesn’t mean that person A should not be.

For example, you might be uneasy about something that a client does, and so you discuss it with a colleague. The tipping-off offence does not necessarily stop you doing this because it’s only relevant once you know or suspect that a report of money laundering suspicion has been made, and if you do not know or suspect this, you cannot tip off.

After the chat with your colleague, you find that you have now moved up the scale from unease to suspicion. Your colleague, on the other hand, is not worried. It would be very foolish, not to say potentially criminal, of you not to report your suspicion on the basis that your colleague is not suspicious.

You should have confidence in your own interpretation of a situation and not be put off taking the correct action just because no one else seems to share your concerns.

Having a suspicion of money laundering or terrorist financing and not reporting it is a serious offence. The legal obligation is quite simple: if you’re suspicious, you must make a report to your MLRO.

‘if you’re suspicious, you must make a report to your MLRO*’
(From the book ‘Anti-Money Laundering – What You Need to Know UK Banking Edition’ by Susan Grossey (Thinking About Crime Ltd.)’

Please go to our website to see our new ISQM TOOLKIT or if you prefer to chat through the different audit risks and potential appropriate responses presented by this new standard, please contact John McCarthy FCA by e-mail at john@jmcc.ie.

We typically tailor training and brainstorming sessions to suit your firm’s unique requirements.

Publications and AML webinars:

  • The ISQM TOOLKIT 2022 is available to purchase here.
  • See our latest Anti-Money Laundering Policies Controls & Procedures Manual (March 2022) – View the Table of Contents click here.
  • Also we have an updated AML webinar (March 2022) available here, which accompanies the AML Manual. It explains the current legal AML reporting position for accountancy firms and includes a quiz. Upon completion, you receive a CPD Certificate of attendance in your inbox.
  • To ensure your letters of engagement and similar templates are up to date visit our site here where immediate downloads are available in Word format. A bulk discount is available for orders of five or more items if bought together.