Fines approaching £250,000 have been made against Estate Agents over the course of the last few months. If you are a Commercial or Residential Property Agent and not compliant with the Regulations to prevent money laundering then you too could be subject to a hefty fine.
On the 1st April 2014, HM Revenue & Customs took over the regulation of Residential Estate Agents and Commercial Land Agents for the purposes of money laundering. Enforcement proceedings will therefore continue with this transfer of responsibility from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
In order to comply with the regulations, it is essential that you have the following in place:-
- An internal money laundering policy;
- Procedures to identify a vendor’s identity before marketing a property for sale (unless exceptional circumstances arise);
- Retention of all records for a minimum of 5 years;
- Audits to ensure compliance with the policy; and
- Staff training
You must have an appointed nominated officer or Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) with a deputy in place to ensure the policy is up-to-date and adhered to.
Responsibilities of the MLRO
It is the responsibility of the MLRO to:
- review suspicious activity
- risk assess the business
- identify trends, and
- reporting these to senior management
Criminal prosecution as well as financial penalties can arise if the Regulations are breached. To avoid falling foul of the legal requirements, the documentation and policy must be in place.
Our firm has specific expertise in supporting clients in Anti-Money Laundering compliance and experience in defending investigations and enforcement. With bespoke policies and procedures available to you, we can advise you on how to protect your business and avoid facing a fine. Our service can range from the provision of policies and procedures through to training and support.
Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me on 01604 828270 or via email on email@example.com