Estate agents buckle under compliance pressure – comments on AML fines for agents

Following the news that HMRC has fined 68 estate agents more than £500,000 for AML breaches, Martin Cheek, managing director of SmartSearch said: “Once again, estate agents unfortunately find themselves in the spotlight for compliancy failures with 68 firms fined more than half-a-million pounds. This latest round of fines and ongoing pattern of non-compliance clearly shows the urgent need to improve standards in the sector.

“It’s also a wake-up call to all regulated businesses with a total of 175 firms receiving fines totalling a hefty £2.1 million.

“As HMRC continues to take action against those who ignore their legal responsibilities, it almost becomes a question of when not if for those who lack fundamental AML processes. Without doubt, the case for digital onboarding, electronic verification and enhanced due diligence has never been so vital.

“Especially in the current climate where sanctions are growing and more than £90 billion is being laundered through the UK, the property sector finds itself on the front line in the war against money-laundering. The sector has long been a target for criminals and exposed persons to filter dirty money and an urgent response is needed.

“Rising to the challenge will undoubtedly a take a culture change to not only be aware of the potential threats, but to take advantage of the latest innovations and technology available to make AML and sanction procedures efficient and far more robust.”