Security and economic crime minister Ben Wallace has revealed that the Home Office will start targeting the property industry harder to bolster its crusade against money laundering. He pointed out that the reason for this is that too few estate agents are currently reporting suspicious transactions.
Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, said: “With the government setting their sights on the property industry and heavily clamping down on Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) violations, the need for estate agents to have far stricter measures in place and ensure compliance is paramount.”
While the focus was initially on banks, the government has opened up its scope and is singling out ‘high end’ estates in particular, because the UK’s prime properties are seen around the world as a “mark of wealth and respectability”. According to Wallace, criminally acquired cash is still being funnelled through the country’s financial system, and the government sees estate agents as weak point in the nation’s defences against economic crime. He has urged estate agents to up their game with regard to reporting suspicious activities, failing which sever penalties and prosecutions would follow.
“We absolutely support making our members/businesses aware of their obligations under Money Laundering Regulations and in particular providing clarity of the roles and responsibilities of appointed officers and all members of the team in undertaking customer due diligence checks and on how to identify a suspicious activity. We have available in-branch training, online training and webinars all aimed to build robust processes and controls to reduce financial crime transactions becoming a reality,” adds McKenzie.
If you need advice or guidance on meeting compliance requirements contact The Guild.