An analysis of anti-money laundering compliance shows the estate agency industry as one of the UK’s worst performing sectors.
And the expert behind the analysis is warning that HM Revenue & Customs is poised to crack down on offenders in the light of alleged Russian ‘dirty money’ in London in particular.
Since 2017 Money Service Businesses has been the worst offending sector, with non-compliance fines of £36.2m.
However estate agency is the second worst performing sector; since 2017 it has seen a total of £563,361 issued in fines, with the largest single fine at £266,793.
Estate agency also accounts for the second largest proportion of total fines issued since 2017 at 21 per cent.
The issue has come into sharp focus in recent weeks because of the Ukraine crisis and greater awareness of the unknown ownership of some properties, particularly in London.
“There was certainly a grace period of sorts offered following the implementation of money laundering compliance regulations back in 2017, but since then, the estate agency sector has seen a number of high profile scalps claimed by HMRC” says Tim Barnett, chief executive of Credas Technologies, which has undertaken the research into AML compliance.
He continues: “ With a clampdown on dirty Russian money in full effect, there’s a very good chance that HMRC will increase its AML activity within the estate agency sector and those who may have facilitated any aspect of illegal activity could be in for a rough ride.”