Money laundering is how criminals change money and other assets into clean money or assets that have no obvious link to their criminal origins. Money laundering involving property can be a popular way to disguise illegal funds, so it is important for estate and lettings agents to have strong anti-money laundering approach.
What can money laundering in the property sector involve?
- Buying a property asset using the proceeds of crime, letting it, or selling it on, giving the criminal an apparently legitimate source of funds.
- Criminals hiding behind complex company structures involving multiple countries and multiple bank accounts to disguise the real purpose of a transaction and hide its beneficial ownership.
- A more direct method of paying an estate agency business or lettings agent a large amount and reclaiming it later.
- The money for a purchase resulting from a mortgage fraud operation.
Estate agencies and property-related businesses have legal requirements for anti-money laundering supervision, including customer due diligence, record keeping, and reporting suspicious activity.
Anti-money laundering customer due diligence involves:
- Obtaining the customer’s name.
- Getting a photograph on an official document that confirms their identity.
- Getting proof of the customer’s address and date of birth.
The best way to do this is to ask for a government-issued document like a passport, along with utility bills, bank statements, and other official documents. Other sources of customer information include the electoral register and information held by credit reference agencies such as Experian and Equifax.
Estate agents in particular have to carry out customer due diligence on buyers, not just the seller for whom they are acting. This is because estate agents are well-positioned to act as ‘’gatekeepers’’ for both parties and they encounter the buyer at an early stage in the transaction.
We know what practices you need to put in place to ensure you comply with complex anti-money laundering (AML) legislation. This legislation is regularly updated and continues to target the property sector aggressively. We also have the tools and knowledge to help you avoid the large criminal and financial sanctions handed down for non-compliance.
For estate agents in particular by using Attwells’ “Move Ready” and “Offer Ready” conveyancing services (see below) for sellers and buyers we are supporting you in meeting your anti-money laundering requirements and other legal requirements before you can market a property for sale. This saves you time and money on every transaction, allowing you to meet an important legal requirement with minimal effort and fuss.