A leading anti-money laundering tech platform has called for a major overhaul of the legislation governing the policing of ‘dirty money’ within the property industry.
SmartSearch says the loophole within the Estate Agency Act 1979 which enables developers to avoid registering for AML purposes and selling homes without attaining the same regulatory standards as estate agents is unfair.
The Leeds-based company, which offers an AML compliance service to several thousand agents in the UK, says the loophole ‘opens the gates to criminals’ seeking to launder dirty money through the UK housing market.
It says that although house builders are not covered by the act because they do not meet the definition of an estate agent within the legislation, they should now be included.
“The UK property sector is already one of the biggest targets for money launderers; loopholes like this make it even more vulnerable,” says SmartSearch’s managing director Martin Cheek (left).
He also says the act is unfair because it only targets agents marketing or selling property even though many other businesses and individuals in the UK sell property without being covered by the regulations.
“If we do not bring all property sales into the regulations, we are giving criminals an easy ride,” says Cheek.
“The technology to catch the launderers is out there, but if businesses are not obliged to undertake AML checks, they won’t.
“The UK property sector is already one of the biggest targets for money launderers; loopholes like this make it even more vulnerable.”
Read more about the AML regulations,