Estate agents hoping that the EU’s role in creating more red tape for the property industry may be disappointed by AML firm Smartsearch’s call this morning for greater cooperation between the UK and its European counterparts to stamp out money laundering.
The firm says that although the EU’s new independent money laundering authority will not have any powers over UK estate agents, banks, accountants and other companies targeted by money launderers, the UK must work with it or ‘risk being left behind’.
The European Commission will launch the Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA) as part of a raft of measures contained in its anti-money laundering action plan, set to be revealed on July 20 and targeted at property companies.
Agents may thank their lucky stars that the UK has left the EU – the AMLA will have powers to fine businesses in breach of regulations up to ten per cent of turnover.
But they may not get away scot free – as part of his budget announcement in March this year, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the formation of a new HMRC taskforce to tackle tax evasion and fraud, which is set to employ 1,000 extra investigators.
“Since the outbreak of the global pandemic we’ve seen organised criminal gangs in the UK taking advantage by exploiting loopholes in AML processes and using increasingly more sophisticated forged ID documents to get their dirty money through the laundering process,” says John Dobson, CEO of Smartsearch (pictured).
“Obviously as we are no longer part of the EU, this new authority will have no jurisdiction in the UK, but in order to be able to fight the threat of money laundering here in the UK most effectively, it’s vital that we coordinate and cooperate with the AMLA, otherwise risk getting left behind.”