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Ministers mull forcing agents to hand over dirty money client details

Brandon Lewis says he may use US-style 'targeted orders' to force agents to provide key details about vendors and buyers suspected of money laundering.

Nigel Lewis

 

money laundering

The government has revealed that it’s planning to crack down even harder on money laundering and is mulling plans to force estate agents to hand over information about suspected ‘dirty money’ vendors and buyers.

This would include giving their personal and bank account details to the National Crime Agency (NCA), ministers have revealed.

It would be achieved by adopting the ‘geographical targeting orders’ already being used in the US to tackle organised crime.

These would be used to focus on both the high-end properties bought and sold by international money laundering vendors and buyers in London, as well as properties elsewhere linked to UK criminals.

Money laundering

The proposals are a response to worries both within government and corruption campaigners such as Transparency International that the UK remains a favoured place for criminals to clean their ill-gotten gains.

“Economic crime threatens our security and prosperity,” former housing and now security minister Brandon Lewis (left), told The Times.

“While operational agencies already have a range of tools for investigating and tackling these threats, we are considering further powers, such as tactical targeting orders.”

The NCA has already been busy this year using its existing powers including issuing Unexplained Wealth Orders to several property owners in London.

In May last year Transparency International claimed to have identified properties worth £4.4 billion which had been bought with suspicious wealth.

October 8, 2019

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