Estate agents warned to stay diligent over anti-money laundering

Estate agents have been told to ensure they are properly clued up on anti-money laundering (AML) – as data reveals Google searches on the issue has fallen.

Overall searches of AML-related terms fell from the start of the year, fresh research shows.

Commentators said AML term searches were high at the start of the year with people keen to understand which nations and organisations have sanctions against them, possibly as a result of sanctions against Russian investors since the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

But searches have now fallen, sparking a warning to agents to properly protect themselves and avoid falling foul of the laws.

Research by Credas Technologies looked at Google Trends data for nine AML related search term.

Each term was given an interest score, to represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 indicates peak popularity for the term, while a value of 50, for example, means that the term is half as popular.

‘Economic sanctions’ was the most searched term, with an interest score of 45.5. This, along with ‘beneficial ownership’, were the only terms to have seen their interest scores increase since the start of the year.

The search term ‘politically exposed person’ has an interest score of 15.3, as professionals seek to understand how to engage with people classed as such. This is important for estate agents, as UK regulators want to keep a close eye on politically exposed people investing in property in case they are being manipulated by criminal groups.

‘Defence against terrorist financing had an interest score of 15.1, with ‘anti-money laundering’ standing at 13.5 and ‘customer due diligence’ scoring 11.8.

Credas Technologies said it was ‘striking’ there had been a ‘significant reduction’ in AML-related terms since the start of 2023. They warned focus on AML could be waning, leaving agents exposed to fines.

Tim Barnett, CEO of Credas Technologies, said: “While it’s understandable that professionals such as estate agents are less focussed on AML issues than they were in January – Russian sanctions resulting from the Ukraine invasion, for example, have dropped down the news cycle – it is quite concerning to think that awareness and due diligence is on the decline.

“AML is just as vital today as it was six months ago and any professionals who are failing to properly protect themselves and the wider UK economy from money-launderers or terrorist financiers risk falling foul of some very serious laws and regulations.

“Modern technology means it’s now easy to practise proper AML due diligence and there’s no excuse to drop the ball, regardless of what time of year it is.”



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One Comment

  1. watchdog13

    These prop tech AML tools have only fulfil a small part of an agents regulated requirements. If you look at what HMRC have been fining agents for, it is not just failure to carry out CDD. It’s for failure to have re registered with HMRC, out of date or no policies and risk assessments, no training logs, the list goes on.
    These tools are part of the process not the entire process.


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