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Estate Agents warned to ensure screening procedures are up to date as the Government toughens sanctions on Russia

02 March 2022 15646 Views
Estate Agents warned to ensure screening procedures are up to date as the Government toughens sanctions on Russia

Estate agents and other property businesses need to ensure their customer screening processes are robust and up to date following extensive new economic sanctions against Russia.

The UK property market - particularly in London -  has traditionally been popular with wealthy Russian buyers, and estate agents need to ensure they know exactly who they are working with to avoid transacting with sanctioned individuals and entities.

In response to President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK Government, along with allies in the United States and across the EU have imposed expansive economic measures targeting the core infrastructure of the Russian financial system.

Described by British prime minister, Boris Johnson, as the “largest and most severe package of economic sanctions that Russia has ever seen” the sanctions have been designed to cut Russia off from the international financial system, and estate agents are being urged to update their customer due diligence procedures to guarantee they are complying with the new - and continually changing - sanctions rules.

Collette Allen, client services director at SmartSearch said: “These new sanctions have huge implications for estate agents in the UK. Not only are UK firms now banned from making funds or other economic sources available to sanction targets, but they are also prohibited from dealing with intermediary financial institutions through which funds could pass, and any firms found to have contravened the sanctions brought in against Russia could face hefty fines and even prison time.”

Allen says that, while all estate agents should - and most are - running full compliance checks on customers at onboarding stage, these initial checks alone can no longer be relied upon.

“It is imperative that estate agents run fresh due diligence and screening on all customers to ensure that they are not transacting with individuals or organisations that are subject to the new sanctions -the easiest and most reliable method is electronic verification with ongoing monitoring.”

SmartSearch not only runs full AML and sanctions checks at onboarding, but its ongoing monitoring service regularly re-checks customers against global watchlists for the entire customer relationship. The system takes updates from global sanctions lists every night, so clients have the peace of mind that their customer database will always be fully compliant. Any estate agents worried about breaching the new sanctions can be set up with SmartSearch’s electronic screening and monitoring service quickly and easily.

Allen concludes: “We are able to set up estate agency firms onto our SmartSearch system within 24 hours, and then screen their entire customer database for sanctioned individuals. We can then continue to monitor it daily for any changes.

To find out how to ensure your businesses is fully compliant with new sanctions, visit www.smartsearch.co

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