Londons property boom might involve money laundering activities, data reveals

Tuesday 9 April 2019 10:45 CET | News

Money laundering has been pinpointed as a problem for the UK, with estate agents singled out by the security minister, as a “weak link” in the UK’s AML defences, according to Wired.

Since 2013, HMRC has conducted around 55 investigations against estate agents for breaches of the UK’s money laundering regulations, according to information gathered by law company Fieldfisher using freedom of information legislation.

The finding revealed that the legislation, which allows people to buy property in the name of a company, rather than an individual, leaves place for money laundering activities. “If you’ve got money in whatever country – China, Russia or Saudi Arabia, for example – and you want to make that money legitimate, you buy that property in the UK in the name of the company”, explains Kyle Phillips of Fieldfisher.

That can turn illicit money into clean money through the value of the property and selling it on, or earning money through rent on the property.

The problem behind this situation could be the fact that UK has too many money laundering regulators, about 25 of them, with no co-ordination, working to different benchmarks and different priorities, and the finger is routinely pointed at lawyers and other intermediaries, Wired continued.

In response to Fieldfisher’s report, HMRC said: “As well as criminal investigations, HMRC also carries out interventions on its supervised businesses to ensure they are complying with the money laundering regulations”. Moreover, a report from the UK’s parliamentary Treasury Committee, released in March 2019, recommended the anti-money laundering system be reviewed and reworked to work better. It suggested a greater role for HMRC in anti-money laundering, becoming the regulator.

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Keywords: AML, money laundering, fraud prevention, real estate, UK, Wired
Countries: World