Estate agents in breach of anti-money laundering requirements now face not only being fined but having to pay a ‘penalty administration charge’.
For administrative AML shortcomings, such as a failure to register or notify HMRC of changes to the business, the charge will be up to £350.
For compliance breaches, such as failing to keep records or practise customer due diligence, the admin charge will be up to £1,500 in addition to the penalty itself.
HMRC says that if it writes to agents from now on about a penalty, it will include details of the penalty administration charge as well as the penalty itself.
Penalty admin charges will apply to all penalties issued from last Wednesday, July 25.
HMRC will not say how many agents it is penalising, or what the average penalty is, but anecdotally it is said to be cracking down on the industry and paying agents more unannounced visits. It does not break down AML fines by sector and it has proved impossible to verify claims that one in five agents have been fined over breaches.
Some agents may have been caught out by the requirement to re-register for AML by April 1 this year, with a number unable to do so, apparently because of glitches at HMRC. As we reported at the time, HMRC did not extend the deadline.