Publication of Guidance on Customer Tax Evasion

The Wolfsberg Group is pleased to publish its Guidance on Customer Tax Evasion, which is designed to provide Financial Institutions (FIs) with an industry perspective on how to develop, implement and maintain an effective anti-tax evasion compliance programme. The overall objective of the Guidance is to promote a culture of ethical business practices and compliance with legal and regulatory requirements related to the prevention of tax evasion, including the facilitation thereof, and to help FIs prevent the use of their operations for criminal purposes. It is the Group’s view that an effective compliance programme should leverage existing financial crime compliance, conduct and tax (including tax transparency regimes) procedures and controls, in order to address the risks of customer tax evasion, and the facilitation thereof.

The Group acknowledges that while tax evasion facilitation risk is distinct from the underlying predicate offence (i.e. not governed by money laundering regulations), Anti Money Laundering (AML) controls and procedures play an important role in the identification of tax evasion facilitation and it may, therefore, be fitting to consider both in tandem. This publication should be read in conjunction with applicable guidance issued by authorities in jurisdictions where an FI conducts business.

As FIs operate under a wide range of legal and regulatory environments, and have differing risk appetites and business structures, this Guidance should not be read as recommending a mandatory approach for all elements contained herein. There are a number of ways FIs can seek to adhere to the various documents published by the Wolfsberg Group. However, the means by which each FI choses to adopt these documents must make sense for each individual firm, recognising that one size doesn't fit all and that each FI's risk mitigation strategy must be tailored to meet its risk appetite.

We hope that you find this new Guidance of interest and the undersigned, as well as the Wolfsberg Group Secretariat, remain at your disposal for further information or questions.

John Cusack, Co-Chair, The Wolfsberg Group William Fox, Co-Chair, The Wolfsberg Group Tracy Paradise, Executive Secretary, The Wolfsberg Group