HMRC’s revenue from AML supervision fees paid by estate agents has ballooned over the past year as more and more branches have been drawn into the mandatory scheme.
The government extracted £5.98 million a year from the industry last year, up from £1.96 million in total fees paid the year before as the number of branches registered for supervision jumped from 15,063 to 19,920.
The data, gathered by AML platform Credas Technologies, reveals that the property industry is now the second highest for total supervision fees in the UK, behind the currency exchange sector.
But the data also inadvertently reveals the uncomfortable truth that until last year some 4,000 estate agency branches were still operating without AML supervision despite it being compulsory since 2018.
When the AML regulations – which now include lettings agencies renting out properties over 10,000 euros a month – were introduced the fee paid by each branchy to set up was £300 with a £110 annual renewal fee.
This renewal fee was later ratcheted up to £300 to howls of protest from the industry.
“With the UK property industry such a common target for money launderers, it’s great to see that more and more estate agents are fulfilling their duty to become AML compliant,” says Tim Barnett, CEO of Credas Technologies (pictured).
“Of course, while this greater compliance is a plus, the sums paid on an ongoing basis may certainly make you wince, particularly given the sharp increase in the fees charged by HMRC in recent years.
“However, even £300 per branch is a small price to pay in comparison to the huge fines you could be subjected to should you be found in breach of AML regulations.”