A ‘frightening’ number of respondents to a Rightmove online poll appear to be unaware of their anti-money laundering reporting requirements.
The portal posted a poll on LinkedIn this week warning that HMRC inspectors are set to increase their activity in tackling AML non-compliance in the estate agency sector.
It asked respondents, “if you suspect money laundering through a property transaction, who should you make a Suspicious Activity Report to?”
The choices were HMRC, the local police, National Crime Agency (NCA) or Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI).
The responses showed that 47% incorrectly said reports should be sent to HMRC.
Just 35% correctly selected the NCA and 13% opted for local police.
It is unclear if and how many of the responses came from agents.
But some estate agents expressed concern about the incorrect responses in the comments under the LinkedIn poll.
One described them as “quite disturbing” and another said they were “very worrying."
Industry trainer Michael Day said in the comments: “Not sure who may be voting but the lack of knowledge being demonstrated is frightening.”
He told Estate Agent Today: “It was a poorly worded question as agents should send concerns to their appointed money laundering officer who then should send a suspicious activity report to the NCA.
“It is worrying that most respondents thought a report should go to HMRC though. It is just HMRC you register with and who can audit you but that is not where reports should go.
“The number of estate agent reports to the NCA are nowhere near what you would expect.”
Day said the main areas of weakness he sees in his training sessions are around risk assessment and sources of wealth.
He said: “Everyone is aware they need to identify the customer but not everyone is tough on risk assessments.
“Agents often talk about getting proof of funds for a buyer, but it isn’t just a case of having the money as it may have already been laundered.
“You need to check where it is actually coming from.
Rightmove held a webinar on anti-money laundering with FSC Compliance consultant Malcom Driscoll yesterday.
Agents can watch the webinar on-demand on the Rightmove hub.
The portal’s next webinar on Tuesday 10 May at 10am will address the new material information requirements recently announced by Trading Standards.
Rightmove’s legal and compliance director David Cox will explain how Rightmove is helping equip agents with new fields to help them comply with the new guidelines on their property listings and answer any questions.
The property website is introducing new fields to cover the material information listed in Part A and has updated its specification for data feed providers to build the new fields into their software when uploading properties.
Information such as price and tenure already exist as fields and the new fields will include shared ownership costs, ground rent and ground rent review period, annual service charge and council tax band.
Agents can submit a question in advance to David when signing up to the webinar.