How to avoid HMRC's AML breach fines

In the first quarter of 2024, over 250 Estate Agent branches have already been fined by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for breaching anti-money laundering (AML) requirements. The fines total of over £1.6m, ranging from £1,500 to over £50,000, and HMRC will publish a follow up list detailing which Estate Agents have been fined.

With cashflow and profits remaining top priorities for Estate Agents, all branches are looking to avoid AML fines and disruption to their vendor’s transactions, but navigating the maze of regulations can be a daunting task.

At iamproperty, we have supported over 2,200 of our Partner Agent branches to manage their AML obligations, avoiding fines and keeping their transactions moving. Here we explore why HMRC are publishing this list of breaches, how your team can stay on top of AML regulations and how tech can take away the pressure of staying compliant.

Why is the list being released?

Explaining to property press, Malcolm Driscoll, lead AML Consultant, FCS Compliance, said: “Registering with HMRC is one of the most basic requirements of the Money Laundering Regulations (MLR). However, so many businesses fail to complete this simple obligation, either by ignorance or by believing that the regulations simply do not apply to them.

“While we accept our legal obligations to drive on the road – a driving licence, insurance, passing a test – for some there is a reluctance to accept AML obligations are needed to facilitate a property transaction where large sums of money are moved between parties.

“To be compliant a business needs an accurate AML Policy & Procedures Manual and AML Risk Assessment that reflects the company’s business activities, awareness of the legislation, adherence to it and the specific risks that the company faces. Additionally, staff must be trained regularly and the obligations to the completion of CDD fully understood and undertaken. These are the things that HMRC are looking at when they conduct their ‘random’ and ‘short notice’ inspections. All agents are at risk and it’s up to them to mitigate those risks or accept they could face an onerous HMRC fine.”

Top tips for staying compliant

  • Clear communication – Keeping clear lines of communication open between all parties will make sure everyone involved in the transaction is aware of their responsibilities with AML regulations. This includes your team, your buyer, and the conveyancers.
  • Education – Everyone in your branch should be keeping up to date with AML regulations, to make sure that any updates or changes do not catch you off guard. Gov.UK and FSC Compliance are the top sources for information that can help you understand the regulations and your responsibilities. You can also enlist the support of external training to make sure your team is fully up to date.
  • Tech support – In the same way that you would rely on your CRM to hold all your client information, tech can help you store and process all of your AML compliance paperwork. Our end-to-end onboarding solution, movebutler, offers a Compliance module, that helps you be confident that all of your compliance needs are covered.

What our Partner Agents think

“Until I began using iamproperty’s movebutler platform to work with compliance and AML, it was a bit of a Wild West. Trying to get everything I needed in one place in a timely fashion was a nightmare but bringing it all together on one platform has saved me no end of time.”
– Paul Benson, Branch Director at EweMove Selby

“I use the movebutler solution for my anti-money laundering checks, which gives me a comfort blanket and also protection when running checks on sellers and buyers.”
– Tom Cooper eXp

How movebutler can give you peace of mind

movebutler’s takes care of everything that your branch needs to stay compliant, including:

  • In-platform Risk Assessments
  • ID verification
  • Automatic reporting of high-risk clients to your MLO
  • Method of Sale Audit in line with the TPO Guidance
  • Upfront Material Information questionnaires
  • Full integration with HM Land Registry
  • Fulfil your AML training obligations – annual certification available
  • Easy audit trail for all transactions

Staying AML compliant is an essential for every Estate Agent, so if you are worried you are not currently meeting your obligations, then be sure to reach out for support.

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