A government minister has made a pointed jibe at estate agents who appear not to regard cash purchases of high-value properties as suspicious.
Ben Wallace, the minister for security and economic crime, has told the House of Commons of the government's renewed efforts to avoid the UK in general and London in particular becoming locations for money laundering.
In a debate reporting on developments in the Salisbury Novichok incident, Wallace spoke about the financial measures open to the government to deter, spot or punish examples of money laundering.
He said: “I have seen some horrendous stories where people have handed over hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash and people have not thought it remotely suspicious, so have not made any report. People have bought houses with cash and somehow some estate agents have not thought that is remotely suspicious. There is an obligation - a legal obligeation - on them to report these issues.”
He added: “Funnilly enough, when we follow up on those cash purchases they are, more often than not, a dodgy purchase.”
Wallace, earlier in the debate, also attacked “sharp-suited” professionals who helped suspicious overseas individuals who were “littering our streets with dirty money”.
Under the Suspicious Activity Reports system, introduced in a bid to improve anti-money laundering problems, agents have a duty to tell the authorities as soon as they “know” or “suspect” that a person is engaged in money laundering.