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Number of money laundering SARs made by estate agents drops

Although number of Suspicious Activity Reports increased across all industries, agents made 10.5% fewer reports to the NCA.

Nigel Lewis

anti money laundering

Estate agents reported 10.5% fewer anti-money laundering related Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) to the National Crime Agency (NCA) during its latest six-month reporting period.

The agency received 635 SARs from estate agents between September 2018 and March 2019, down from just over 700 the year before.

The vast majority of SARs come from banks, building societies and other financial bodies and institutions and overall the number of SARs announced by the NCA increased by 3.3% to 478,437.

SARs from estate agents still represent just 0.13% of this total although other professions are also required to report SARs including lawyers, solicitors, luxury goods dealers and betting websites and shops.

Terrorist SARs

The money laundering figures also reveal that seven terrorist financing SARs were reported by estate agents during the period.

The NCA has been busy in the property sector this year including ramping up visits to estate agency branches to inspect their compliance, most famously at Purplebricks which was ‘in discussions’ with the NCA during August this year.

It has been claimed that a fifth of estate agents have been fined over poor AML procedures including fines for several agencies including Countrywide and Settled.co.uk.

The latest upgrade to the EU’s AML regulations is due to become UK law on 10th January.

It is due to extend the reach of AML law to cover letting agents handling properties offered to let at more than £5,000 a month, but the distractions of Brexit and last week’s General Election mean this is unlikely to take place until later this year.

Read more about AML.

December 16, 2019

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