The National Association of Estate Agents admits that “take up has been low” in its bid to persuade each member agent to identify a nominated Money Laundering Reporting Officer and deputy.
In a detailed response to the government’s ‘anti-red tape’ review of the impact on business of current anti-money laundering regulations, the NAEA has set out its attempt to train and inform members about AML issues.
The association meets with HMRC every three months and hosts free masterclasses for members with speakers from HMRC itself, the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team, the National Crime Agency and one of the three official redress organisations, The Property Ombudsman.
But its response then adds: “NAEA has also asked every PPD [member agent] to complete a form identifying the nominated Money Laundering Reporting Officer and Deputy and their contact details. We intend to communicate with relevant staff with important legislation updates and useful information. So far the take up has been low, but we are continuing to push this initiative with our members.”
The response goes on to explain a problem with London sales processes, where it is common practice for an estate agent to take on an instruction and to use sub-agents to find a buyer. “Therefore many sub-agents in London are concerned that under the current rules they can’t rely on the main agent’s own due diligence and must carry out their own checks” says the NAEA response.
The association says that ideally sub-agents should be able to share AML information from the main agent - while bearing in mind appropriate legal obligations - rather than conducting multiple checks.
At the end of its submission, the NAEA says training is perhaps the most essential and effective means of getting agents to recognise and report potential money laundering problems.
Specifically it calls on the government to give more help through HMRC.
The submission ends with: “The guidance from HMRC (Money Laundering Regulations 2007: supervision of Estate Agency Businesses) should include working examples of estate agents who have given reports to the NCA and the outcome to better explain to staff and MLROs about how long the process can take and what happens if the report is acted upon or not.
“If the process could include priority and non-priority reporting to the NCA this may lead to greater detail being provided as well as more initial reports filed. A more integrated approach with mortgage advisers, solicitor and estate agents working together to gather information may also help.”
You can read the full submission here.