The Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR) was founded in 2010 as a merger of the French Banking Commission, the Committee for Credit Card Institutions and Investment Firms (CECEI) and the Mutual Insurance Supervisory Authority (ACAM). Initially known as the Autorité de contrôle prudentiel (ACP), it became the ACPR in 2013 with the implementation of the EU’s Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD), which was transposed into French Law as ordinance number 2013-672.
The French Monetary and Financial Code sets out the ACPR’s three main objectives:
- Financial stability: The ACPR conducts ongoing supervision of the French financial system, ensuring that firms comply with financial conduct and reporting regulations and implement appropriate AML/CFT measures. As part of that role, the ACPR issues operating licenses and authorizations to financial institutions.
- Consumer protection: The ACPR plays a direct role in protecting the customers of financial institutions, performing on-site checks and inspections to ensure that those institutions have adequate resources and procedures in place to comply with the AML/CFT regulations imposed by the French government. The ACPR coordinates its work through the Joint Unit that it shares with the Autorité des marches financiers (AMF).
- International representation: In cooperation with the Banque de France, the ACPR has a responsibility to represent France on the global stage, in EU and international banking and insurance bodies, including the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). In that capacity, the ACPR works to promote convergence in international financial standards and best practices.
The ACPR places a strong focus on ensuring that firms meet their AML/CFT regulatory obligations and supports the French Treasury in its development of domestic AML/CFT legislation. The ACPR sends out an annual questionnaire to financial institutions to help shape AML/CFT policy: using firms’ responses to that questionnaire, the ACPR rates each institution as either low, moderate, high or very high risk and gauges their AML/CFT response using criteria aligned to those categorizations.
As a FATF member state, France is committed to implementing the AML/CFT standards set out by the intergovernmental organization. Accordingly, ACPR counter-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering guidelines require that firms take a risk-based approach to the threats they face and put suitable customer due diligence, screening, and transaction monitoring processes in place as part of an internal AML/CFT program.
How to comply with the ACPR: In order to comply with ACPR money laundering policy, obligated firms must:
- Complete the ACPR’s annual questionnaire in order to feed money laundering and terrorism financing risk information into the authority’s risk assessment model.
- Develop a risk-based AML/CFT program commensurate with the risk profile of the firm’s customers and business sector.
- Implement customer due diligence (CDD) measures to ensure that customers are being truthful about their identities and the nature of their business. Customers who present a higher level of risk should be subject to enhanced due diligence measures (EDD).
- Monitor transactions for suspicious activity that could indicate money laundering or terrorism financing. Suspicious activities include unusual transaction patterns and transactions over a certain value threshold.
- Screen customers for adverse media stories and against politically exposed person (PEP) lists.
- Screen customers and transactions against relevant international sanctions lists such as the EU’s consolidated list and the United Nations Security Council List. Where sanctions are found to be in place against customers, firms must be able to implement asset freeze measures.
The ACPR’s supervisory authority gives it the power to conduct on-site inspections of obligated entities. The checks are intended to establish the suitability of the AML/CFT programs that firms have put in place. During an inspection, the ACPR will consider the effectiveness of a firm’s risk assessment process and of its internal AML mechanisms and reporting processes.
Obligated entities: ACPR AML/CFT compliance obligations apply to all financing companies, insurance services, credit institutions, payment institutions and electronic money institutions operating in France. Institutions acting as intermediaries for banks, and insurance and payment services firms may also be classified as obligated entities and subject to ACPR supervision.
Compliance penalties: Where firms are found to have violated their AML/CFT compliance obligations, the organization has the power to impose a range of disciplinary measures, including warnings, reprimands, license revocations and the prohibition of operations for up to 10 years. The ACPR may also suspend or compel the resignation of senior managers and impose fines of up to EUR 100 million.