Sharp rise in estate agents submitting suspicious activity reports

There has been a 30% increase in estate agents submitting Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and Defence Against Money Laundering (DAML) SARs in 2022/23 compared to 2021/2022, new analysis shows.

The total number of SARs, including DAML SARs, submitted by estate agents increased from 1,094 in 2021/2022 to 1,421 in 2022/2023, the study carried out by Thirdfort, which combines Know Your Client (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Source-of-Funds (SoF) verification, revealed.

Month  2020/2021 2021/2022 2022/2023
SARs 680 780 950
DAML SARs 268 314 471
Total  948 1,094 1,421

With 24,965 estate agencies in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics, this means only a small number of agents are submitting SARs, even though HM Treasury and the Home Office assessed estate agents at ‘medium’ risk for money laundering.

Harriet Holmes, AML Services Manager at Thirdfort, said: “Our analysis shows a positive increase in the amount of SARs submitted by the sector. This is significant, given the important role that agents play as gatekeepers in the regulated sector. It ultimately supports protecting society from fraud and money laundering.

“While SARs submissions from estate agents have grown, so have the risks posed by fraud and money laundering. So, agencies should continue to take a thorough approach to their anti-money laundering obligations and encourage employees to engage with the compliance process and raise issues when they spot them. By being more proactive about AML, estate agents can stay on the right side of the regulations beyond the submission of SARs.”

Thirdfort’s analysis of National Crime Agency figures shows 50 sectors submitted more than 934,000 SARs and DAML SARs across the year.  Banks submitted the most SARs in 2022/2023, registering just over 560,000 SARs and nearly 75,000 DAML SARs in total.

Using AI, biometric verification and Open Banking, Thirdfort’s web and mobile app automates KYC, AML and Source of Funds verification. It has transformed a cumbersome process that has historically taken weeks into one that takes just minutes.



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