You are here: Home - Mortgages - Buy To Let - News -

Estate agents targeted in latest government crackdown

Written by: Lana Clements
Estate agents turning a blind eye to property potentially bought with dirty money are the focus of a new government campaign.

Suspicions of money laundering must legally be reported by agents through a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) to the National Crime Agency.

Yet in the tax year 2017/18, estate agents submitted just 710 SARs compared with accountants submitting 5,036 and independent legal professionals submitting 2,660.

Estate agents face unlimited fines and prison terms of up to two years if they are prosecuted for failing to comply with money laundering regulations.

And the government has now teamed up with industry groups to target professionals who fail to flag dubious transactions.

The Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, the National Association of Estate Agents and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, are to help agents spot signs of money laundering and remind them of their obligations.

A client being evasive or contradictory about the source of a large sum of money or using many different bank accounts should be among the triggers for filing a report.

Flag it up

The Flag It Up campaign already targets solicitors and accountants but is now expanding into the property sector with support from HMRC.

Money laundering in the UK is estimated to be worth hundreds of billions a year, according to the National Crime Agency, which supervises estate agents under the money laundering regulations.

Ben Wallace, minister for national security and economic crime, said: “Criminals who seek to use this country as a place to launder money should be in no doubt that they have nowhere to hide.

“Estate agents are a crucial line of defence against them and that’s why they’re under a legal – and moral – obligation to file a report when they spot something amiss.

“It’s wrong to think of money laundering as a victimless crime.

“Those with dirty cash to clean don’t just sit on it – they reinvest it in serious organised crime, from drug importation to child sexual exploitation, human trafficking and even terrorism.”

Mark Hayward, chief executive of trade body NAEA Propertymark added: “Both small and large estate agencies are susceptible to criminal activity.

“Houses bought with laundered money often sit empty, taking homes away from the market that could be used for families and having a further negative impact on the wider community.”

There are 0 Comment(s)

If you wish to comment without signing in, click your cursor in the top box and tick the 'Sign in as a guest' box at the bottom.

Could you save money with a social broadband tariff?

Two-thirds of low-income households are unaware they could be saving on broadband, according to Uswitch.

How to help others and donate to food banks this winter

This winter is expected to be the most challenging yet for the food bank network as soaring costs push more pe...

Your rights for refunds if travel is affected by strikes

There have been a wave of strikes this year across many different industries, and more are planned over Christ...

What will happen if rates change

How your finances will be impacted by a rise in interest rates.

Regular Savings Calculator

Small regular contributions can build up nicely over time.

Online Savings Calculator

Work out how your online savings can build over time.

DIY investors: 10 common mistakes to avoid

For those without the help and experience of an adviser, here are 10 common DIY investor mistakes to avoid.

Mortgage down-valuations: Tips to avoid pulling out of a house sale

Down-valuations are on the rise. So, what does it mean for home buyers, and what can you do?

Five tips for surviving a bear market mauling

The S&P 500 has slipped into bear market territory and for UK investors, the FTSE 250 is also on the edge. Her...

Money Tips of the Week