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The government’s Director for Economic Crime, Cyber Crime and Corruption Richard Riley has revealed that estate agents filed 710 Suspicious Activity Reports or SARs last year, which, although a huge improvement on previous efforts, still only represents 0.15% of the national total.
Speaking at last week’s NAEA Propertymark conference in London he said more needs to be done about the ‘dirty money’ problem and that the government will offer more help to estate agents, lawyers, accountants and other professionals to spot money laundering and other criminal activity.
We know money laundering is a huge problem in the UK, and property is one of the most vulnerable sectors, with estimates that £120bn of UK property is owned by offshore entities, much of which has been bought with dirty cash. This means that estate agents are often the first line of defence against money laundering, so it is vital that their AML processes are fit for purpose.
The Government says it wants to support estate agents, and one way in which they could do this is to make electronic money laundering checks compulsory. Electronic identification is now widely recognised as the most reliable, secure and efficient source of information for identity solutions, while the 5th Money-Laundering Directive calls for lectronic identification to verify customer information.
In order to have a failsafe system that will guarantee to recognise fraudulent documents and AML activity, thousands of estate agencies are turning to electronic AML platforms to complete their AML checks, Global Sanctions and PEP screening. With a one-stop shop AML verification system you can use one platform for multiple solutions, whether it is UK or international.
We also have an integrated app that is able to electronically verify all documents remotely, with the same capabilities as the full SmartSearch verification platform. This app is a really useful tool for estate agents, as it means they can carry out an instant SmartSearch wherever they are, whatever time, and receive the results to their handheld device in seconds.
With technology like this available, there is no reason for any estate agents do not have the correct AML processes in place. Electronic AML platforms save time, money and are more reliable than manual checks ever can be, giving estate agents the peace of mind that they are stopping money launderers in their tracks, are fully compliant and ready for any spot check HMRC might throw at them.