In response to operational adaptation that firms are undergoing as a result of restrictions imposed to tackle the spread of Covid-19, the Commission has decided to ease some of the timeframes in the Handbook rules. Specifically, those timeframes relating to the approval of business risk assessments and policies and procedures and for reviews of existing customers have been put back.
The changes mean that the timeframes for obtaining Board approval of firms’ money laundering and terrorist financing business risk assessments and revised policies and procedures (Chapter 17 of the Handbook), have been moved from 31 May 2020 to 30 September 2020.
In addition, whilst firms must review all existing customers by 31 December 2021 to make sure that the revised measures in the Handbook are applied, the timeframe for completing reviews of high-risk customers has been changed from 31 December 2020 to ease pressure upon firms. Firms should continue to apply a risk-based approach and are strongly encouraged to ensure that their high-risk customers have been reviewed by 30 June 2021 or earlier if possible.
Tracked and clean versions of the revisions to chapter 17 of the Handbook can be accessed on https://www.gfsc.gg/sites/default/files/uploads/20200429%20-%2017.%20Transitional%20Provisions%20%28BL%29.pdf
Commenting on the changes the Director General, William Mason, said: “It seemed to us proportionate to extend the deadlines in the light of the Covid-19 restrictions. These measures follow earlier measures by the Commission extending prudential regulatory deadlines to relieve pressure on firms.”
The Commission notes that firms remain bound to combat terrorist financing and money laundering in all circumstances – its deadline extensions apply merely to the full integration of the revised requirements of the 2019 Handbook into firms’ operational practises.
The revised rules take effect on Wednesday 29 April 2020.