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AML latest: 25% of estate agents have failed to register with HMRC

Some five years after AML rules came in, thousands of agencies are now committing a criminal offence by not being registered, it is claimed.

Nigel Lewis

anti money laundering thirdfort aml

A quarter of estate agents in the UK have yet to register with HMRC some four years after the law required them to comply.

The research by AML platform Thirdfort means 5,540 branches across the UK could be guilty of a criminal offence and face significant fines depending on the number of branches they have.

In 2018 Countrywide was fined £215,000 for merely failing to implement the AML regulations properly, although fines for smaller agents who fail to register for AML purposes are usually around £5,000 to £6,000.

But perhaps worse than the fines, HMRC often heavily publicises the names of agents who have not registered for or complied with the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 and its subsequent updates.

A joint report from HM Treasury and the Home Office in 2020 assessed the risk of money laundering in the estate agency market as medium, up from low.

Link to Anti-Money Laundering featureOlly Thornton-Berry, co-founder and MD of Thirdfort, says: “Money laundering is a serious and growing risk in the property sector and HMRC is hot on the heels of those agents that fall foul of their regulatory obligations.

“The failure to tackle money laundering has significant implications. Not only does it support criminal activity, but it leaves agents open to reputational damage, fines and even bans.

“Thirdfort exists to protect life’s big transactions, allowing both agents and buyers to move without risk.

“Our platform meets the criteria set out in HMRC’s guidance for money laundering supervision, so by using our Thirdfort agents can negotiate in confidence, secure in the knowledge they are fully compliant.”

From October 2021 letting agents who deal in rental properties worth more than €10,000 or £8,300 a month must also now register for AML purposes with HMRC.

January 27, 2022

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