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NAEA condemns exposed estate agents and launches investigation

The National Association of Estate Agents says the agents named in Channel 4‘s From Russia With Cash documentary may have tarnished the reputation of the industry as a whole, and has launched an investigation into the issue.

Mark Hayward, the association’s managing director, says in a statement: “We do not condone the behaviour of the agents in the documentary From Russia With Cash and it is regretful that a small number of negligent agents tarnish the reputation of the industry as a whole. All agents should know that they have a responsibility to report any potential money laundering activities to the National Crime Agency and failure to do so, or to enable such an action, is a criminal act.”

He continues: “We take a dim view of members thinking they are above the law. Our members agree to comply with professional standards and we operate a range of sanctions to any breach of those standards. In the case of Anti-Money Laundering, members would face a disciplinary process which could involve expulsion and a fine of up to five million euros. As a consequence of this documentary we will be carrying out our own investigation and, if needs be, we will not refrain from taking the strongest appropriate action possible.”

The NAEA has not given specifics of how and when its investigation will be conducted, nor whether all the agents mentioned in last night’s programme were association members. 

The programme approached five high end London estate agents in a bid to see how they operate to counter money laundering. Those agents were Winkworth, Marsh & Parsons, Domus Nova, Chard and Bective Leslie Marsh.

A ‘politician’ - supposed to be a Russian government minister - spoke with agents about a plan, allegedly to use millions of pounds of stolen money to purchase high end property in the capital.

Despite the agents being made aware of the dubious background of the funding, some appear to have agreed to continue with a potential purchase. 

In several instances the estate agents recommend law firms to help a buyer hide his identity. 

  • Trevor Mealham

    The programme showed companies ignorance mainly in the companies on screen statements.

    But also it didnt show what agents did or didnt do after the viewing.

    If agents felt something wasnt right then they would also have been wrong for "Tipping Off" which the programme did'nt mention.

    For sure, the agents didnt seem to understand AMK regulations. Not good

  • Sceptical As Always

    I disagree. Would your first reaction be "hold it right there, Boris, let me phone SOCA"? no, it wouldn't. Let's face it, if the man's willing to steal millions he probably wouldn't think twice about throwing you off a balcony. Safety first. What happened behind the scenes we'll never know, but as the on-screen statements said, no offer was ever made so if the tree falls...

  • Trevor Mealham

    @Sceptical As Always.

    An offer doesn't have to be made. Thats the whole point. It's if the agent is aware of suspicious ways funds may launder into a purchase.

    But in fairness to agents. 'Tipping Off' is an offence. As the documentary was a fly on the wall, where the agents main directors where not included. No, after viewing filming, in the agents offices took place to see if they then followed HMRC guidelines.

    The doc was a good idea, but only showed one side, and failed to go further. Ch4 could have worked closer with HMRC to see if any of the agents raised concern. But they didn't.

    Some could say the programme researchers only did half their job!

  • icon

    It would have been interesting for Channel 4 to follow Boris to the recommended firms of solicitors and see what they had to say

  • Trevor Mealham

    @ Ashley
    Yes would have been a good continuation for a second week. Then third week agents and solicitors walk into a room with serious fraud squad sitting there :-)

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