Many estate agents and other types of businesses who are required to check client identities are struggling to spot fake passports and other documents when completing Anti-Money Laundering checks, it has been claimed.
The comments, by AML verification platform CEO Martin Cheek, coincide with a Treasury Select Committee session yesterday afternoon with Donald Toon from the National Crime Agency and Mark Thompson from the Serious Fraud Office.
During the grilling by MPs, the two service heads suggested that the anti money laundering hurdles that estate agents have to clear are relatively ineffective.
This is, the senior civil servants said, was because they had no idea how much money is being laundered every year.
“…even when AML processes are in place, the manual checks involved means they are often struggling to spot the fakes…”
All they could say during questioning was that money laundering is now a “very big problem in the UK” and that ‘hundreds of billions of pounds’ are laundered through the UK every year.
They said that the huge number of financial transactions that take place every year including property sales and purchases made it difficult for financial regulators to track fraudulent activity. “Unfortunately, because the fraudulent documents – such as passports and driving licences – used to make fraudulent transactions are becoming so sophisticated, even when AML processes are in place, the manual checks involved means they are often struggling to spot the fakes,” says Martin Cheek.
“Not only is money laundering a crime in itself, but it is an enabler of wider, much more serious criminal activity, so we need to fight it the best way we can”.
“Identification is now widely recognised as the most reliable, secure and efficient source of information for identity solutions and is the only option for failsafe system that will guarantee to recognise fraudulent documents and AML activity.”