A compliance specialist company is warning that as it believes relatively few estate agents fully understand their anti-money laundering obligations, firms must now ensure their guidance for and training of staff is complete, up to date and fully complying with regulations.
Lysis Financial cites a recent survey undertaken by a leading software provider showing that only 12 per cent of agencies fully understood their regulatory and legal requirements relating to AML.
“HMRC, the industry’s regulator for AML and client due diligence, has advised that the money laundering regulations have been in place long enough within the estate agent industry and that their approach is now less on warnings and more on penalties. In fact, during 2017 it was widely reported that over 800 [agencies] had been fined by HMRC for AML failings” says a note just issued by Lysis.
It says this indicates how seriously HMRC is now taking its role as AML regulator and enforcer.
“Part of an effective risk rating regime is having an understanding of the money laundering and financial crime risks relating to Politically Exposed Persons. However, according to the report a comparatively large percentage of respondents did not know what a PEP was” says Lysis - one of a number of firms offering AML ‘health checks’ to agencies.
Lysis says as the AML measures are relatively unfamiliar, agencies must ensure training is appropriate “to instill the correct level of culture and understanding relating to AML compliance.”
It concludes by saying that with HMRC flexing its muscles on the issue, agencies must “ensure their AML Governance Framework is fit for purpose as well as ensuring all staff know their responsibilities in relation to AML Controls if they are to avoid regulatory punishment.”