We are not told what the precise interests of the charities were before the appropriation. If they had a vested beneficial interest in the asset then the bare trust of the legal interest would be within para 15, as similarly where any beneficial owner vested the legal title to their asset in a bare trustee or nominee.
My suspicion (I accept I jumped to a conclusion given the usual, though not unreasonable, parsimony of information) was that the charities might be pecuniary or residuary legatees rather than joint specific legatees with an equitable title of sorts to the asset. If so the appropriation would involve the creation of a bare trust by the PRs’ action. I am not convinced that Parliament (hollow laughter) can be taken as having intended para 15 to apply but it is possible a judge with a modern elastic opinion might hold so. Another view could be that it is not an express trust at all because it arises by operation of law; the PRs having a choice about whether or not to appropriate but not at all over its legal consequences if they do.
For all practical purposes what matters is what HMRC think. They could be asked but my experience is that the perfectly competent people staffing the helpline cannot readily assist with such intricacies due to current lack of proper instructions. This may later be cured because it proceeds from totally inadequate prior analysis of the implications of the law as drafted which one imagines is now being tardily and gradually made. A request in writing seems inevitable under the non-statutory clearance facility and I always find the words “legitimate expectation” oil the wheels.
Or the PRs could just take a view. It is plain as a pikestaff that both the intent and actuality involves no money laundering (not strictly a defence!). The charities never become trustees so their predilection to go to the Supreme Court to ascertain their position at 100% cost to the estate or their own funds is not in point. The only “trustees” are the PRs.
1 Register now (line of least resistance) or wait for clarification to emerge (September 2022 is far distant yet)
2 Try to get HMRC to opine on whether they are required to register (who is paying for all this?)
3 After checking whether anyone else might realistically challenge them, stop being silly and take a bona fide view that either para 15 applies or it is not an express trust and get on with their other work. If I were a lay PR faced with the dilemma I would go down the pub and toast HMT for their manifest inability to organise the time-honoured event in a brewery
As the prospective penalties have not so far been communicated to HMRC by divine revelation, or at least not divulged yet to their “customers”, 3 is a trifle uncomfortable for professionals but I have (just) enough faith in our legal system to be confident that HMRC will have definitive difficulty enforcing unannounced penalties.
The entirety of the foregoing emphasises what massive overkill AML is at the grass roots level, like something devised by Lavrenty Beria