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Money laundering back on the agenda in government

19th July 2016

After all the recent Whitehall upheaval we can perhaps get back to business; and first item on the agenda seems to be money laundering! A recent Home Affairs Committee meeting highlighted the significant risk posed by money laundering in the UK property market. “Without doubt” said one member, “the UK is a destination for laundered money.”

Specifically the committee echoes recent calls for checks on both vendors and buyers as well as landlords for whom it is “(too) easy for someone intent on laundering money to buy a property with their ill-gotten gains, and rent it out in a very buoyant and robust letting market, and take in clean money in perpetuity.”[1] The message from government is increasingly clear; Customer Due Diligence must be undertaken on all parties in a transaction… Estate and Lettings Agents must be looking to check their vendors, buyers and landlords.

According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), the number of suspicious activity reports (SARS) generated by the 1.2m property transactions undertaken in 2015 was just 355… 0.0003% of transactions! Given some experts estimate up to £100 billion is laundered through the UK every year this seems like a suspiciously low number.

We reported back in July 2015 that HMRC had begun to undertake spot checks on Estate Agents having been recently appointed to regulate the sector. We firmly believe that HMRC’s actions since then suggest they are not looking for reasons to fine agents, rather they are looking to support businesses who are genuinely making an effort to comply and put processes and procedures in place.

The critical undertaking is to evidence your AML activity; standardise your processes and ensure your staff are trained to understand basic AML procedures.

Compliance in a Box is a pay as you go service that provides online AML checks, training for your staff, and storage for your records for the mandatory 5 years. We are also able to identify individuals on government sanctions lists and Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs). Through one easy to use online portal you can standardise your AML processes across your business.

For more information and to try Compliance in a Box FREE on your first 3 properties please contact us on 01524 220013 or by email compliance@etsos.co.uk.

 

[1] http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhaff/25/2508.htm#_idTextAnchor061

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