Stark Warning to Property Agents Over Money Laundering Regulations

Stark Warning to Property Agents Over Money Laundering Regulations

Money laundering: Are you on the right side of the law?

As BCA Members are well aware, flexible workspace operators must comply with strict Money Laundering Regulations. Failure to do so can lead to heavy financial penalties and severe reputational damage - as three estate agents have recently discovered.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has issued fines totalling over £246,000 to three separate firms - Hastings International UK Limited, Jackson Grundy Limited and Jeffrey Ross Ltd - which it has found to be in breach of Money Laundering Regulations 2007.

Kate Pitt, OFT Deputy Director of Anti-Money Laundering, said: "The Money Laundering Regulations are designed to detect, deter and disrupt financial crime. We fined these three estate agents as they were failing to comply fully with the regulations, and so were more vulnerable to money laundering or terrorist financing activity."

In order to ensure compliance with Money Laundering Regulations, flexible workspace operators are required by law to have certain procedures in place. These include appointing a 'nominated officer', checking the identity of all customers, carrying out staff training and keeping all relevant documents. Any suspicious activity must be reported to the National Crime Agency immediately.

According to the OFT, the three aforementioned estate agents committed numerous failings, including the following:

  • Failures to apply adequate customer due diligence measures when carrying out estate agency work.

  • Failures to conduct ongoing monitoring of business relationships.

  • Failures to establish and maintain appropriate policies and procedures on adequate record-keeping, internal controls or risk assessments.

  • Failures to train relevant employees in how to recognise and deal with transactions and other activities which may be related to money laundering and terrorist financing.

BCA Members and flexible workspace operators should take this news as a warning and ensure that they, and their staff, take all Money Laundering Regulations seriously. Failure to do so, even unwittingly, can result in huge fines and major reputational damage. It certainly pays to ensure your business is operating inside the law. Can you afford to pay the price?

The BCA is committed to keeping Members informed of the latest updates with regard to Money Laundering Regulations, and issues alerts to help Members identify fraudulent or suspected criminal activity. Be sure to take heed of these alerts - they are designed to protect your business, your clients, and to help you to operate safely and legally.

Please be aware that as of 31st March 2014, the OFT handed over responsibilities for anti-money laundering in respect of estate agents to HMRC. More information on Money Laundering Regulations is available here:

  • BCA - Money Laundering Regulations - information for the flexible workspace sector, including operators of Business Centres, Workspace, Hubs, Coworking Space, and Accommodation Address - VO Providers.

  • HMRC - Introduction to Money Laundering Regulations

  • GOV.UK - Supervision of estate agency businesses

If you require further help, you may wish to contact BCA Member, Contego Fraud Solutions Ltd. Contego offers a comprehensive web-based vetting system to help workspace operators comply with anti-money laundering regulations. Find out more

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