Andrew Swan
Andrew Swan

Member Article

Estate Agents face Anti-Money Laundering Regulations for overseas-property

UK-based estate agents who assist clients to purchase or sell overseas property must now comply with the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Regulations.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) launched its AML registration scheme in July 2009. Estate agents dealing with property overseas must register with the OFT from 1 October 2012 and have until the 31 March 2013 to do so. Carrying on an estate agency business without being registered is a breach of the Regulations for which the OFT may impose a civil financial penalty. It is also a criminal offence which could result in prosecution.

The OFT has also welcomed the decision of the First-Tier Tribunal to dismiss Sussex-based estate agent, Mansell McTaggart Limited’s appeal against a £3,000 fine imposed by the OFT for carrying on estate agency work whilst unregistered. The Tribunal found that the penalty imposed in this case was appropriate.

David Fisher, OFT Director of Anti Money Laundering, said: ‘The changes to the Regulations will help to deter, detect and disrupt financial crime by reducing businesses’ vulnerability to being used for money laundering or the financing of terrorism.

‘It is important that businesses comply with the Regulations and register with the OFT. As shown by our action against Mansell McTaggart Limited, where they do not, we will impose penalties.’

Andrew Swan, Head of Financial Crime at law firm Short Richardson & Forth LLP commented: “The AML Regulations aim to reduce the risk of supervised businesses being used for money laundering purposes or indeed financing terrorist activity. To ensure compliance, relevant businesses have to follow specific procedures, such as verifying customer identity, training staff and reporting suspicious activity to the Serious Organised Crime Agency.”

“Clearly, estate agents assisting with the purchase or sale of properties overseas need to take the same precautions to ensure they are not becoming involved in money laundering activity.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Andrew Swan .

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