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HMRC shows its teeth with bumper AML fines for agents

More than 30 agents and property firms such as auction houses and valuers were reprimanded by HMRC for anti-money laundering breaches last year, official data shows.

The taxman has revealed its latest list of businesses that have not been fined for not complying with money laundering regulations.

It names firms that haven’t registered with HMRC for anti-money laundering (AML) supervision or brands that have failed to conduct adequate checks.


More than 30 estate and lettings agents as well commercial property and auction firms feature on the list for the period April to December 2021.

This is out of around 79 firms, making up 44% of AML breaches.

One of the largest fines was for Bond Wolfe Auctions at £52,000 for “failing to apply for registration at the required time.”

Wolfe Auctions blamed a misunderstanding of the reach and scope of anti-money laundering regulations.

A spokesperson for the company told Estate Agent Today: “We have complied with all the usual AMLregulations since our launch in January 2019, and all buyers and sellers have to undergo full AML checks.

“However, despite a regular dialogue with HMRC on the usual matters concerning tax on the setting up of our auction division, they did not advise us until some time later that we also had to register for a scheme entitled ‘The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer)’.

“We were unaware that we had to register, and even our tax and AML advisors were unaware that we should.”

The fines levied by HMRC are linked to turnover and time, hence the original fine of £52,000 – which was actually discounted to a payment of £39,000 as Bond Wolfe Auctions settled immediately.

The spokesperson added: “We regard this as a disproportionately high penalty for an oversight which is levied purely and simply because of our turnover level – in effect a tax on us launching so successfully from the outset.”

Lloyds Property Group, which is registered in Essex but operates in Dorset, was also on the list and received a fine of £15,000 from HMRC for “failures in carrying out risk assessments, having the correct policies controls and procedures, conducting due diligence and timing of verification.”

Estate Agent Today has asked the company for comment.

Witter Properties, a franchisee of the Lovelle brand, was fined £5,000 for failing to register for AML supervision in time.

The company has been asked for comment.

View the full list of firms.

There is no suggestion that these firms are still not compliant and the list does not reveal if those on the list have since registered.

It comes amid warnings that HMRC is poised to crackdown on offenders who fail to comply with anti-money laundering rules in the light of alleged Russian ‘dirty money’ in London.

Industry trainer Michael Day, of Integra Property Services, said HMRC’s new economic crime supervision department has greater resources at its disposal so more inspections can be expected.

He told Estate Agent Today: “The Russian scenario in Ukraine and imposition of more sanctions is seeing AML become a high priority and new legislation was pushed through earlier this year – The Economic Crime Act.

“A lot of the fines are where businesses have failed to register for supervision or renew their supervision registration

“There are no excuses for failing to comply which is why I run my AML training courses every month.”

  • icon

    Dirty money that they're quite happy to collect.


  • icon

    But they are quite happy to let foreign money launderers to take over UK football clubs.

  • Roger  Mellie

    I'd always thought that watching paint dry was the most boring thing to do in the world. Then I discovered Anti Money Laundering legislation.


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