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Agents warned over dangers of relying on ‘gut feel’ to spot AML criminals

88% of estate agents tell iamproperty.com that their instincts are reliable in detecting money laundering in a property sale.

Sheila Manchester


New research from iamproperty reveals that almost 60% of estate agents thought that AML wasn’t a problem in their area, with the highest proportion of these based in the North East.  Almost 90% of Estate Agents believed their instincts alone were reliable in detecting money laundering.

The four most common red flags: 

  1. A vendor reluctant to provide their documents to prove their identity and that they are the owners of the property
  2. The funds from the sale coming from an unknown and unidentified source
  3. Buyers paying in cash
  4. A client who bought a property 6 months ago and is looking to sell it already, at a reduced price

The research is the second phase in a campaign (pictured above) launched to raise awareness of the need to reduce the reliance on purely human instinct when it comes to identifying risks of money laundering in the house selling and buying process.

The research also found that 42% of respondents wouldn’t continue with a full AML check if speed was essential to the sale, if they didn’t think it was necessary or if they knew the buyer.

Ben Ridgway, Group Managing Director, iamproperty said, “An industry that once relied solely on relationship building, a friendly approach and a good handshake now has to take a step back and add a layer of technology.  It is no longer OK to trust that relationship or just a gut feeling, and Estate Agents that do are putting themselves at risk.

“Money laundering has become ever-more complex in the last few years with more faceless transactions and anonymous bank transfers. Nowadays it’s not often a case of a house-buyer turning up with a bag of cash. Our people-focused industry needs to rely on a more robust technological approach to sussing out issues with money laundering.”

Can you smell it?

The campaign ‘smell the difference’ was created to launch iamproperty’s new compliance product, the only AML compliance offering designed with Estate Agents in mind; offering integrated risk assessments and certifications, a comprehensive suite of educational resources, ongoing support from Compliance Matters with a compliance helpline and integration with Land registry.

David Beaumont, compliance expert working with iamproperty, said, “Working your way through the complex obligations of the HMRC’s AML requirements is stressful, ensuring your agency complies is even worse. Failing to meet the ever-changing requirements of HMRC can result in large penalties. I encourage agents to use technology-based systems and I recommend this one as it is designed and built specifically to make compliance as simple as possible, so agents can focus on listing and selling houses.”

Claire Kendall, Partner at Richard Kendall Estate Agent said, “Estate Agents would very much like to focus on selling houses for a living, however, the compliance requirements from the HMRC are a considerable burden. To try to alleviate this we use iamproperty compliance to reduce some of the stresses we face in ensuring that we are meeting our AML obligations. I can relax knowing we have a constantly evolving system ensuring that we meet the standards required for AML compliance both now and in the future.”

Read more about iamproperty.

February 13, 2020

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