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Agents warned against AML complacency on Russian sanctions

Sanctions against Russian oligarchs are working but agents and property professionals are being warned against getting complacent when checking international buyer credentials.

New data from Bloomberg has revealed Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs have lost more than $300m per day since the country’s invasion of Ukraine, a total of $95bn.

Martin Cheek, managing director of AML platform SmartSearch, has argued that the sizeable shortfall in personal wealth shows the success of sanctions, but warned regulated firms cannot become complacent.


He said: “This latest data clearly demonstrates the black hole Russian billionaires are now facing and the successful efforts made by governments across the world to put meaningful sanctions in place. 

“As Russia’s brutal invasion enters a pivotal winter, this good work must continue to limit available funds and bring this war to a much-needed conclusion.

“This positive news is by no means a reason for complacency though, especially for regulated firms who act as the “gatekeepers” of the UK financial system. Tools such as electronic verification and robust sanction screening remain vital to properly disrupt the rat runs used by designated persons  to evade financial restrictions.”

Cheek said detailed Know Your Customer (KYC) checks and real-time monitoring are now more important in the current climate and should be integral parts of any digital compliance process. 

He added: “If the threats of hefty fines, time-consuming investigations and even criminal prosecution wasn’t enough to encourage compliance, the thought of given a green light to Russians should certainly be.”


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