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Estate agents admit anti-money laundering failings

Two thirds of estate agents think they don’t meet the HMRC’s anti-money laundering rules, auctioneering and conveyancing firm iamproperty has found.

Less than half (46%) of Estate Agents believe that AML regulations are equally understood and implemented by agencies across the country, though 80% think they fully understand the regulations.

Ben Ridgway, group managing director at iamproperty, said: “This research has given us a revealing new insight into the understanding of and adherence to the increasing regulatory burden facing estate agents.

“Under the current regulatory environment, it’s never been more important for estate agents to undertake a thorough examination of each and every sale, using whatever tools they can to reduce the impact on their business.”

The rules say that agents have to devote resources to deal with money laundering and terrorist financing.

In January the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive was launched, which asked for agents to use electronic verification for their anti-money laundering checks.

The full list of rules are lengthy.

Despite the regulatory requirement, 40% of Estate Agents did not partake in annual AML training.

A quarter knew of a firm that had faced an HMRC fine, yet 40% of those admitted to no changes being brought in or new policies adopted following HMRC penalty.

Ridgway added: “The research told us that almost a third of Estate Agents were still managing their compliance manually and relying on their instinct to flag concerns with an aspect of a sale.

“Yet, they are also faced with an increasingly challenging selling market. With this in mind, we at iamproperty are excited to be launching our new compliance platform, iamproperty compliance, designed to take the hard work out of managing AML compliance.

“Now more than ever, Estate Agents cannot simply rely on their senses when sniffing out suspicious activity.”