A leading board member of NAEA Propertymark warns a small number of rogue agents continue to flout anti-money laundering regulations - and he says they will be caught and prosecuted.
Simon Wilkinson told a round-table discussion on anti-money laundering that following the most recent EU and UK government AML directives, heavy fines and high profile cases grace have become more common.
“HMRC has also been doing more audits over the last few years, so property professionals are taking AML practices far more seriously. Unfortunately, we’re still seeing a handful of rogue agents not following proper practices and leaving themselves open to sanctions, which will be a question of when they get prosecuted – not if” Wilkinson told the event.
“Part of the problem is the lack of regulation across the industry resulting in poor practices being rife” he continued, highlighting recent reports from trade organisations suggesting two-thirds of firms were non-compliant with AML rules.
The roundtable was attended - virtually - by a series of property, legal and PropTech experts.
They discussed the fact that an estimated £4.5 billion of so-called ‘dirty money’ had been spent on UK residential property in recent years, with some experts suggesting the actual figure could be closer to £30 billion.
Attendees agreed that digital collaboration was likely to be one way of reducing the problem. As consumers become increasingly tech-savvy, it’s important that the property industry moves away from manual time-consuming processes and duplication of effort, attendees agreed.
Andrew Kimpton, mortgage and protection adviser at Just Mortgages, commented: “As more solutions come to market, I think we’ll need to adopt a system similar to how we all currently work with credit reference agencies, allowing various property professionals to work with their choice of provider, but still receive the same information.”
Individual providers also need to consider how they communicate and collaborate with industry partners to enable this, according to Joe Pepper, chief executive of tmgroup: “Collaboration across the industry is key to success and building solutions with open APIs will help to facilitate this, so we are increasingly able to join solutions together to not only make things better for property professionals and consumers, but make it harder for criminals to succeed.”
You can view the full ‘Dirty Money in the Property Market’ discussion below: