The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is the latest body to warns its estate agent members that they have a legal duty to report any suspicious transactions, following the revelations of Channel 4’s From Russia With Cash documentary.
It is also launching its own investigation into the revelations to see if they involve any RICS-regulated firms or members and promises “appropriate disciplinary action.”
The programme, in which a journalist posed as a corrupt Russian official looking to launder money, revealed what RICS calls the “shocking failure in ethical behaviour” by agents. The institution says this is “a sad indictment of standards in some parts of the industry [and] it will no doubt be a blow to public confidence in the wider property profession.”
The agents featured in the programme were Winkworth, Marsh & Parsons, Domus Nova, Chard and Bective Leslie Marsh.
“All estate agents have a legal duty to report any suspicions of transactions which they believe could involve fraudulent money laundering. Above and beyond these general legal requirements, RICS members and our regulated firms commit to the highest professional and ethical standards as a condition of membership” says Luay Al-Khatib, RICS director of regulation in the UK and Ireland.
“We have taken this opportunity to remind all RICS members of their responsibilities in protecting the UK property industry from involvement in criminal activity. We shall conduct our own investigation into any RICS regulated firms or members implicated by the Channel 4 documentary. Should it be necessary we will take appropriate disciplinary action.”
The National Association of Estate Agents has already launched its own investigation into the programme’s allegations and the agents identified in it.