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Anti-money laundering: only 1 in 300 foreign deals triggers a 'red flag'

One one in every 300 property purchases by overseas buyers trigger a so-called ‘red flag’ with the National Crime Agency - and that’s a cause for concern according to an anti-money laundering consultancy.

Fortytwo Data says in Britain some 1.2m property deals created only 355 Suspicious Activity Reports in the year to March 2016; SARs are red flag warnings sent by estate agents, financial institutions and law firms to the National Crime Agency when they detect suspicious activity.

Fortytwo Data says this translates into only 0.33 per cent of cash purchases by overseas buyers triggering alerts - roughly one in every 300 sales.

The number of SARs submitted by agents alone to the NCA climbed dramatically in the 2015/16 period under review, however, rising 98.3 per cent in only a year. 

“It was the highest rise of any sector, which suggests lack of awareness and training in the past has been a problem” claims the company.

“There’s no doubt 355 SARs generated by all estate agents is a tiny number. That figure seems to be on the right trajectory but the industry still has a long way to go. Residential property is a golden opportunity for criminals, who are able to take advantage of a sector that, in the past, has not been subject to such stringent money laundering requirements as financial institutions” says Fortytwo Data chief executive Julian Dixon.

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