UK: AML warning as hundreds of agents hit with HMRC fines

As published on: estateagenttoday.co.uk, Friday 12 April, 2024. 

An anti-money laundering (AML) expert has queried why there is a reluctance among estate agents to accept and follow AML responsibilities.

It comes as HMRC figures showed more than 200 estate agency businesses were fined for anti-money laundering (AML) failures between April and September 2023.

The latest data from HMRC shows 254 estate agency business were fined a more than £1.6m for failing to register, or re-register with them for AML.

The fines range from £1,500 to over £50,000.

Commenting, Malcolm Driscoll, lead AML Consultant at FCS Compliance, said: “Registering with HMRC is one of the most basic requirements of the Money Laundering Regulations (MLR). However, so many businesses fail to complete this simple obligation, either by ignorance or by believing that the regulations simply do not apply to them.”

Driscoll questioned why people will accept legal obligations to drive on the road – a driving licence, insurance, passing a test – but for some, he said, there is a reluctance to accept AML obligations are needed to facilitate a property transaction where large sums of money are moved between parties.

He added: “To be compliant, a business needs an accurate AML policy and procedures Manual and AML Risk Assessment that reflects the company’s business activities, awareness of the legislation, adherence to it and the specific risks that the company faces.

“Additionally, staff must be trained regularly and the obligations to the completion of CDD fully understood and undertaken. These are the things that HMRC are looking at when they conduct their ‘random’ and ‘short notice’ inspections.

“All agents are at risk and it’s up to them to mitigate those risks or accept they could face an onerous HMRC fine.”



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