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Guide to Anti-Money Laundering for Estate Agents

22nd April 2013

The recent case in which an Agent was fined £12000 by Trading Standards highlights the importance of getting your Anti Money Laundering Procedures right.  But what are your responsibilities as an agent and how best can you comply?

The HMRC guidance suggest that as an agent you should:

  • Confirm your customer’s identity before entering into a business relationship or occasional transaction with them and obtain information on the purpose or nature of the business relationship
  • Conduct ongoing monitoring of the business relationship as appropriate to ensure that transactions are consistent with your knowledge of the customer and the customer’s business
  • Keep records obtained in establishing your customers’ identity and of business relationships for five years
  • Put in place checks, controls and procedures in order to anticipate and prevent money laundering or terrorist financing
  • Train your staff in those procedures and in the law relating to money laundering and terrorist financing
  • Appoint a nominated officer or money laundering reporting officer (MLRO). The MLRO should receive and consider internal disclosures of suspicious activity from within your business and make suspicious activity reports to the Serious Organised Crime Agency
  • If you are a sole trader with no employees, you do not have to appoint a MLRO but you have to carry out the MLRO activity.

The full guidance can be found here

Although complex it is only following cases like the above that the requirements become a little clearer. Within this case Trading Standards declared the responsibilities the agent had not met as:

  • Verifying the identity of customers
  • Keeping appropriate records
  • Ensuring that relevant staff are aware of the law relating to money laundering and terrorist financing
  • Establishing and maintaining risk policies together with procedures

In a strong message from the HMRC, Deputy Director of Anti-Money Laundering Kate Pitt said “This sends out a strong message to all estate agents that they need to have appropriate measures in place to prevent their business from being used for money laundering or terrorist finance purposes.”

The full story can be found here

It is clear then that the HMRC are looking to clamp down on offenders and it is more important than ever that your procedures are up to scratch. Compliance can be a mine field with procedures needing to be put in place creating an administration burden and then there is the question of whether copies of ID are really enough?

The ETSOS system can help, alongside many other ancillary reports you can order electronic AML checks which give an instant pass or refer result. This comes without the need for traditional documents such as utility bills and passports. These SmartSearch reports will also assist in identifying Politically Exposed Person and name matches on the HM Treasury Sanctions lists, ensuring compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering regulations.

If the results are referred then collect the traditional documents. Introducing a process like this alongside staff education helps show your company is working hard to avoid falling foul on Money Laundering. It also relieves the administration burden as in the majority of cases you will not need to collect the photocopied documents.

If you would like to find out more about our instant AML ordering service please contact us on 01524 220013, brobinson@etsos.co.uk or alternativley fill out the form below:

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