Dear Members of the Bermuda Bar Association and Chartered Professional Accountants of Bermuda:

Changes to the Registration Regime for Barristers and Accountants 2021

As you know and as explained on our website, the Barristers and Accountants AMLATF Board  (the "Board") is a statutory board established jointly by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Bermuda (CPA Bermuda) and the Bermuda Bar Association (the "Bermuda Bar"), pursuant to Section 8A of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bermuda Act 1973 and Section 25A of the Bermuda Bar Act 1974.   The Board has been designated by the Minister of Justice under Section 4(1) of the Proceeds of Crime (Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing Supervision and Enforcement) Act, 2008 (the “Act”) to be the supervisory authority for regulated professional firms (barristers and accountants) as defined by Regulation 2 of the Proceeds of Crime (Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorist Financing) Regulations 2008 (“the AML/ATF Regulations”).

Since inception the Board has been funded by way of a fee levied by (i) CPA Bermuda in accordance with section 7A(g) of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Bermuda Act 1973, which says that the CPA Bermuda, in conjunction with the Bar Council may make by-laws respecting the Barristers and Accountants AML/ATF Board, including by-laws

“…fixing the fees payable by firms to defray the operational costs of the Barristers and Accountants AML/ATF Board and providing for penalties to be assessed against firms who fail to pay such fees, including the suspension, termination or expulsion from CPA Bermuda of members practising with such firms.”

And (ii) by way of Section 9(ea) of the Bermuda Bar Act 1974 says that the Bar Council may make rules

“…fixing the fees payable by firms to defray the operational costs of the Barristers and Accountants AML/ATF Board and providing for penalties to be assessed against firms who fail to pay such fees, including the withdrawal of the practising certificates of barristers practising for such firms”

CPA Bermuda and Bermuda Bar levied fees on their respective members in line with a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) between CPA Bermuda and Bermuda Bar, which laid out the respective organizations’ funding obligations. That MOU expired some time ago, following which both CPA Bermuda and Bermuda Bar advised the Board that the fees levied on their respective members to support the regulatory activities of the Board needed to be re-examined.  

As a result of this notification, and to try and assist both CPA Bermuda and the Bermuda Bar, the Board has been working within the Mutual Assistance Committee (“MAC”) which is comprised of members of the Board, CPA Bermuda and Bermuda Bar to find a more equitable way of funding the Board’s activities.   As a consequence of this consultative process, a new funding arrangement has been tentatively agreed upon by the MAC set out below, subject to input and further feedback from CPA Bermuda and Bermuda Bar members.  In addition, the Board has also changed its processes and procedures to allow for a more streamlined registration process following feedback from registrants (also set out below).

Funding:

  • It is proposed that all professional firms per the AML/ATF Regulations that do not engage in specified activities (i.e. unregulated) shall pay a registration fee to the Board of $750.00 (per professional firm, not per person) per annum; and
  • It is proposed that all professional firms per the AML/ATF Regulations that engage in specified activities (i.e. regulated) will pay a registration fee to the Board of 1% of gross revenue related to those specified activities per annum as declared to the Board upon registration in the preceding year (minimum $750.00).

It is anticipated that over 80% of regulated firms will see a decrease in their registration fees.  A minimum number will have a small increase in registration fees with a few others having a much larger increase. 

Administration:

  • CPA Bermuda will send invoices directly to accountancy registrants with payments collected by CPA Bermuda for onward transmission to the Board.
  • The Board, on behalf of the Bermuda Bar, will send invoices directly to barrister registrants for payment directly to the Board. The invoices will be issued at the same time as the practicing certificate renewal process by the Bermuda Bar (save for this transition year).
  • The Board will issue registration certificates to each registrant upon payment being satisfied.
  • Non-payment will result in registration certificates not being issued or further action being taken by the Bermuda Bar or CPA Bermuda as appropriate pursuant to the various acts governing the Board and its supervisory duties.

The Board in consultation with the MAC carefully examined three more options in regards to funding, in particular:

 (a) charging a registration fee per individual barrister/accountant (regardless of whether they engage in specified activity);

(b) charging a fee as a percentage of overall gross revenue of each regulated firm;

(c) charging a fee per specified activity transaction of regulated firms. 

None of these options were deemed suitable by the MAC. The Board welcomes feedback to the fee proposal via email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 26th January 2021.  

 

Registration

We also write to remind you of the necessity to register annually with the Board, with the deadline being 31 January in each year (guidance note below).

A significant difference from last year is that this year all registrations will be filed electronically using our new web portal which can be accessed here: //portal.amlatfboard.bm (it will be live imminently).

Importantly, if your entity was classified as “Non-Regulated” in the previous year, you are simply required to submit the Basic Registration Information, complete the various declarations and submit payment. In other words, there is less of an administrative burden for “Non-Regulated” entities moving forward. This has been amended thanks to feedback from registered entities.

During the past year, the Board has invested significantly in terms of human resources and systems.  It has also been an active participant in the national exercise of the FATF Mutual Evaluation. Arising from that, the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee and its Supervisory Forum have set out a detailed coordinated programme for Bermuda, to which the Board ascribes.  The consequence for registered firms will be much closer interaction with the Board than firms may previously have experienced, according to a timetable which will be strictly enforced.

Firms will recall that supervision is exercised using a risk-based approach.  Accordingly, significant data is required in order to enable the Board to determine whether a firm is to be regulated in any one year and also to assess risk, both for the rating of an individual firm and to understand risk across the legal and accounting sectors as a whole.  To that end, the following material will be required to be included with the registration submission or supplied at a later date as indicated below: -

Information Required

Due Date

Annual Registration (includes payment)

January 31st 2021 (subject to feedback)

*Entity Risk Assessment

March 31st 2021

*Mitigants Questionnaire

March 31st 2021

*Independent AML/ATF Audit

April 30th 2021

*Please Note: Commencing January 2022, the above Data Calls must also be submitted with the Annual Registration due in January of each year.

The Board recognises the workload involved in meeting your statutory responsibilities and stands ready to assist firms by way of training sessions and individual consultations.  Please contact the Board’s office on 296-5577 to make an appointment, if needed. Equally, the Board wishes to indicate that the number of firms now registered and the scope of AML/ATF compliance requirements in view of the FATF effectiveness expectations is such that the Board will be obliged to take a strict line on deadlines and complete supply of material requested.

In addition to the above, those firms who have not as yet been subjected to formal examination of their procedures may expect shortly to receive letters from the Supervisor concerning desk top reviews, which will commence after receipt of their Policies and Procedures at the time of reregistration.

As you will note the Board has listened to the feedback provided in regards to the portal, as well as the feedback in regards to documents that need to be submitted by entities that were not engaging in regulated activities. The Board has also received further feedback regarding the information being requested from regulated firms. In particular we have fielded a number of queries regarding the reasoning for entities disclosing fee overall revenue information and other related fields. It should be noted that Bermuda currently uses the World Bank Tool for completing the ML/TF National Risk Assessment and details such as the total turnover or total value or amount of all transactions handled by a particular profession are required as a data source for the completion and evaluation of segments of the above-mentioned Tool.  As the objective for the collection of this data source is to assist in assessing the importance of a particular profession in Bermuda’s economy compared to other sectors that are also being assessed, it may be likely that the requirement to produce this information will continue to be required by the Board.  We can also confirm that this data and all other data collected by the Board remains confidential and any references to same are completely anonymized. Nevertheless, we are in the process of deciding if it is appropriate to remove some of those requirements in the future and will revert in due course.    Notwithstanding this exercise, you will still be required to submit all required information as requested for 2021.

Guidance Notes for Web Registration

Annual registration with the AMLATF Board for 2021 will be completed on the new AML/ATF Board Registration Portal which is now active.

Note that the information required is the same information as in previous years, but it is now submitted digitally with the following exception:

  • If your company was classified as “Not Regulated” in the previous year, you are simply required to submit the Basic Registration Information, complete the declaration and submit payment.
  • If your company was classified as a “Regulated Entity”* in the previous year, you are required to complete the FULL registration process.

* If your company was classified as a “Regulated Entity” in the previous year, and you wish to be re-classified, a written application must be made to the AMLATF Board AFTER completing the FULL registration.

Registration Process

When you first access the portal, it will prompt you to set up a User Account:

Once you complete the User Account information you will be prompted to submit the Basic Registration Information:

General Information

  • Structure & Operations
  • Ownership & Control
  • Subsidiaries & Affiliates
  • Organizational Chart
  • Fit & Proper Persons Information (and upload)
  • Business Administration
  • Non-Regulated Entity Registration

Once this information has been submitted, Companies that are “Not Regulated” can make a Declaration that:

You will then be directed to the formal Declaration page where you will Declare:

Following the Declaration, you will be directed to the Payment Page where your registration fee can be paid online via credit card or you can indicate how payment will be submitted (online or cheque).

  • Regulated Entity Registration

If you are Regulated Entity, you will continue the registration process and submit the balance of the required information:

  • Nature of business
    • Practice areas
    • Teams
    • Product types
  • Client Transactions
    • Upload data
    • Review data
    • CFO approval
  • Financial information
  • POCA regulations documents
  • Risk data
    • Customers
    • Transactions
    • Geographic
    • Channels of delivery
    • Suspicious activity
  • Declaration
  • Payment

Once this information has been submitted, you will make the following Declaration:

Following the Declaration, you will be directed to the Payment Page where your registration fee can be paid online via credit card or you can indicate how payment will be submitted (online or cheque).

AMLATF Board Review

Once the Basic Registration Information has been reviewed and payment received, the AMLATF Board will issue an Annual Registration Certificate, which will expire on December 31st of the registration year.

__________________

In conclusion, the Board is keen to work with both CPA Bermuda and Bermuda Bar members to continue building and consolidating a robust and effective regulatory regime.  Much work has been done by the Board, the Supervisor Kim Wilson and the Assistant Supervisor Martin Russell to assist registrants and provide the necessary guidance when required. I take this opportunity to thank Warren Cabral who completed his term as Board Chair on 30th June 2020 and helped build a respected AML/ATF supervisory body.  I believe that upon successful registration using the new registration portal and continued streamlining of our processes the Board is well placed to meet the regulatory challenges of 2021 and beyond.

For day-to -day queries or if you wish to speak to me or any members of the supervisory team please contact our (new) Technical Officer/Office Manager, Peter Aldrich by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. who will be pleased to assist you.

Yours faithfully

Hon. Michael M. Fahy, JP

Chairman of the Board