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HMRC very likely to crackdown on estate agencies - warning

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.”

  • icon

    We’re an easy target for politicians and HMRC because of the public perception of estate agents and our trade bodies are complicit in encouraging this…
    It is worth noting that in order for an estate agent to be involved in money laundering it will also require both a Solicitor and a Bank… makes you think!

  • Trevor Cooper

    Estate agents and conveyancing lawyers in Guernsey in the Channel Islands have been operating the highest due diligence levels since 1999, no matter how many shell companies and other red herrings are involved are involved. No beneficial owner or no reliable source of funds means no conveyance.
    And yet English politicians - and others - accuse us of being havens for dirty money. Sort out your own house you hypocrites!

  • icon

    Also worth noting that in the US AML requirements for real estate transactions have focused only on loans… meaning that you could avoid any scrutiny if you purchase the property in CASH!
    So perhaps London isn’t quite the best laundromat in the world, despite what our media might like to tell us!


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