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Compliance chief tells off the agency industry

Property professionals need to be more vigilant when it comes to their anti-money laundering processes.

That’s the view of the manager of an AML company, First AML, who claims 43 per cent of property professionals are not improving their anti-money laundering (processes because they either don’t care or don’t think they will get fined. 

The firm conducted only a very small survey - of just 250 real estate professionals, across the entire UK - bu saying it is “worrying” that 48 per cent have identified an instance of suspected money laundering in the past three years. Alongside this, some 59 per cent of respondents are apparently not completely confident in their AML procedures.


With the cost of living crisis growing, 42 per cent of respondents say they will cut their spending on the issue. 

Simon Luke, UK country manager at First AML, ticks off the industry and says: “Property professionals need to be more vigilant when it comes to their anti-money laundering processes. Turning a blind eye because they believe the severity of fines is small or inconsequential is a very dangerous mindset. It's time for the real estate sector to ensure they have a robust process in place in order to prevent dirty money from passing through their systems.”

When asked what they believed was the weakest part of their AML process, the majority of property professionals surveyed identify training, followed by document collection for individuals and companies, and then getting staff to actually follow procedures.

To become more compliant 78 per cent are implementing technology. Alongside this, 60 per cent are looking to increase budgets for emerging tech and implement AML software in 2023 to avoid AML non-compliance fines. 

“The sector needs to reassess its priorities. And that means implementing innovative technology solutions that can not only reduce costs and the administrative burden of compliance, but also ensure businesses are doing the right thing” continues Luke. 

On a positive note, over four out of 10 real estate professionals say money laundering has become a greater focus in 2022, with the majority saying this is because of an increased focus on customer transparency and ethical customer onboarding. 

  • Matthew Payne

    I would say most small agents dont even have an AML process and of those that do, most think its about collecting email copies of passport photos, job done. In their defence, the AML requirements are far more complicated than is covered in the press, so the latter could be forgiven for not knowing exactly what needs to be done. Beware though if HMRC walk in unannounced, they will expect to see a whole lot more than customer ID/POA.


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