A significant number of estate agency businesses would struggle to pass an anti-money laundering spot check, while nearly a quarter could be breaking the law because they don’t have an AML officer in place.
That’s the warning from identity verification business Credas, which polled 100 estate agency businesses.
It found that 22% of those businesses didn’t have an AML officer and processes in place, despite risking potentially large penalties from HMRC for failing to comply with regulations.
Credas also claimed that of those surveyed, businesses spend an average of four days per month completing AML checks, with one of the main barriers to completion being cited as getting hold of clients.
On average, the businesses it spoke to listed 150 properties a month across their branches, taking an average of two and quarter hours to undertake the AML verification process for each listing.
Earlier this week, EYE revealed that HMRC could soon start naming and shaming the non-compliant firms it has fined.
Rhys David, chief executive of Credas, said: “Since the introduction of the directive in June last year, the industry has had little support or guidance on how to implement the required checks.
“I feel for these businesses because of the extra administrative burden, but unfortunately, as it stands, they could be breaking the law by not having an AML officer in place.”
He warned estate agents: “Now is the time to get your own house in order.
“It is more than six months since the AML directive was implemented, yet our research shows that unfortunately many businesses would fall foul of the law if they were spot-checked.”
Credas launched in May 2017 as a way to verify someone’s identity using facial recognition technology.
It paid estate agency businesses to take part in its OnePoll survey, which was conducted in December.
Mark Hayward, chief executive, NAEA Propertymark said: “It’s sad to see that even with publicity, some agents are still ignoring the importance of anti-money laundering procedures and the compellingly need for compliance If agents don’t have a money laundering reporting officer, they’re breaking the law.”