John Dobson, chief executive of leading RegTech firm SmartSearch, commented: “The property market has increasingly been targeted by money launderers. High-value transactions such as this are particularly attractive as they enable large quantities of dirty cash to be ‘washed’ through seemingly legitimate channels in one go.
“This ought to have been picked up at the time but nowadays those involved in the transaction would have nowhere to hide. The money-laundering regulations (MLR) require banks, accountants, estate agents and conveyancers not just to verify the ID of transacting parties but to screen them against Sanction and PEP lists. Where there is a positive match, they are under an obligation to carry out enhanced due diligence and report any suspicions to the relevant authorities.
“By far the best way to carry out all the necessary checks effectively is by using sophisticated online screening systems which will clearly flag up when further action is required. Too many are continuing to rely on old-fashioned document checks and in many cases simply turning a blind eye to illicit activity that can support terrorism, people-trafficking, drugs cartels, or as in this case simply the luxurious lifestyles of corrupt businessmen and their families.”