News that HMRC is investigating Estate Agents who fail to comply with anti-money laundering regulations will be viewed with a certain wryness by lawyers who have constantly borne the brunt of these stringent regulations.
In the wake of the recent decisions in the Dreamvar case, they may feel it is not before time that this burden should be shared. However, with the property market in London in particular showing a slowdown, the agents will not be having a happy time. We live in interesting times.
Estate agents are under pressure to demand more information from clients and spot corrupt money. The UK’s estate agents are accustomed to dealing with nervous homebuyers, over-optimistic sellers and fluctuating house prices. But now they are being forced to take on a far tougher challenge: money launderers. This week HMRC launched its most high-profile crackdown yet on the sector, raiding 50 estate agencies suspected of failing to register under anti-money laundering rules and revealing fines to others. The moves prompted panic among those agents who have been lax in carrying out due diligence on home buyers and sellers, according to industry players. Agents are under pressure to demand more information from clients and spot corrupt money, even as they vie for scarce deals in a slow housing market.