UK - HM Revenue & Customs has extended the deadline for registering as a trust or company service provider (TCSP) under new money laundering regulations, giving professional pension trustees until May 31 2008 to decide if they need to register.

Money laundering regulations originally required a "firm or sole practitioner who by way of business" acts as a pension scheme trustee to register with HMRC as a TCSP and implement anti-money laundering systems by April 1 2008.

However, lawyers last month warned a lack of guidance from HMRC over whether professional trustees can be classed as TCSPs meant pension scheme trustees would have to apply for an individual ruling or face "draconian" penalties. (See earlier story: Trustees warned over money-laundering rules)

As a result HMRC has now confirmed it will publish updated registration guidance for TCSPs in April, which it said will "reflect feedback from businesses in their discussions with HM Treasury about the interpretation of the regulations as they apply to TCSPs".

In addition, because the new guidance will not be published until after the current deadline expires, HMRC confirmed it would allow businesses to apply to register as a TCSP without penalty until 31 May 2008.

The government authority claimed this would give applicants "time to consider the impact of the updated guidance on your need to register", and added if people have not yet registered they "may wish to delay registering until the updated guidance is available".

However, it continued those who have already registered as a TCSP will not need to do anything, as if they are affected by any changes HMRC will contact them directly once the guidance is updated.

Kate Richards, pensions partner at law firm Nabarro, pointed out the application of the money laundering regulations to TCSPs "has brought some confusion, over the past couple of months, to those acting as trustees who, despite HMRC's initial guidance notes, have been left uncertain as to whether they need to register before the 1 April 2008 deadline".

She claimed there are a number of key areas which have been "problematic", including:

What is meant by the term 'by way of business"? What is a "nominal" amount of remuneration? How many schemes can an individual be a trustee of before operating a "business"?

She added: "In light of the confusion and uncertainty, the updated guidance due to be issued in April and the extension of the deadline to the 31 May 2008 is a welcome relief for those who have not yet registered."

If you have any comments you would like to add to this or any other story, contact Nyree Stewart on + 44 (0)20 7261 4618 or email