The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is to expel an estate agent for breaking several of its membership rules.
Dion Beard, who has been a member of the organisation since 1991, faced three formal charges relating to a prospective property transaction that took place in 2015.
Beard was acting as an estate agent for a vendor, when he was approached by a potential buyer who was in fact a journalist working undercover as part of an investigation into the practices of estate agents in London.
In the fictitious scenario, Beard was approached by a buyer named 'Boris' who disclosed that he was intending to purchase the property in Chelsea using criminal funds.
The footage was recorded and ended up as part of Channel 4's documentary into money laundering, From Russia with Cash.
At a hearing last week, Beard denied the first two charges and admitted to the third.
The agent accepted 'with hindsight' that it should have been apparent to him that the situation suggested to him by the fictitious buyer involved money laundering.
He said that he had not been dishonest and that he was not of 'dishonest character'.
Beard suggested that since the documentary his firm, Bective Leslie Marsh, and other estate agents had improved their money laundering compliance procedures.
In From Russia with Cash, after 'Boris' explains he is using funds, Beard responds by saying: “Don’t talk to me about how it comes here. I don’t need to know.”
The agent said he did refer to money laundering regulations in his conversation with the bogus buyer, but that it was edited out of the documentary.
The RICS panel at the hearing said it was 'concerned at Mr Beard's apparent disregard for his professional obligations'.
Beard had previously received penalties for non-compliance with RICS CPD requirements in 2013 and 2014.
It said considering the seriousness of the case, combined with the agent's previous non-compliance, it had 'no alternative' but to expel Beard from the RICS.
In its verdict, RICS says the purpose of its sanctions is 'to declare and uphold the standards of the profession and to protect the public'.
Beard is entitled to appeal the decision and has been given 28 days to do so.
“Agents need to be very clear on their obligations, because the repercussions of failure can be severe,” David Beaumont, compliance expert and director of Compliance Matters, told Estate Agent Today.
“Mr Beard would have been facing criminal charges under the Money Laundering Regulations had the circumstances of the Channel 4 programme been real. Even minor failings by agents have seen penalties being imposed by HMRC.”
RICS announced last July that it was launching its own investigation into the issues raised in the Channel 4 documentary. This came after the National Association of Estate Agents commenced a separate investigation into the matter.
You can read the full case details and verdict on the RICS website here.
RICS accused Beard of continuing to market the property to the buyer, despite his admission of money laundering.
The second charge relates to the agent not making a report to his firm's nominated officer for money laundering or contacting the police.
The third charge is that Beard failed to comply with RICS' requirements to record Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activity online during 2015.