The Government has recently launched a new money laundering awareness campaign that aims to tackle the issue of ‘dirty money’ being used to buy properties. According to the National Crime Agency’s National Strategic Assessment 2018, hundreds of billions of pounds per year could be being concealed.
Money laundering in property in the UK
The act of money laundering is illegal here in the UK, however it is something that has taken place for many years. Not only is the crime itself illegal but it has also been shown to act as a catalyst to other crimes too, including modern slavery, fraud and corruption. Speaking about the additional crimes that can take place with money laundering, Ben Wallace, Minister for National Security and Economic Crime, said, “It’s wrong to think of money laundering as a victimless crime. Those with dirty cash to clean don’t just sit on it – they reinvest it in serious organised crime, from drug importation to child sexual exploitation, human trafficking and even terrorism.”
Criminals are finding more and more ways to conceal their money which is why it is incredibly important to raise awareness of the issue across all sectors so that people can remain vigilant and spot any signs of suspicious activity.
Flag It Up
The ‘Flag It Up’ campaign is a UK Government-run scheme that works with different industries to raise awareness of money laundering. The campaign teaches people the best practices and approaches for anti-money laundering compliance and shows people how to recognise and report suspicious activity. Over the past four years the UK Government has been using this scheme to work with officials and businesses in the accountancy, and legal sectors in a bid to crack down on the criminal activity.
Preventing money laundering in the property sector
For the first time since the campaign was launched, ‘Flag it up’ will now be expanding to work with the property sector too – a move that is being supported by HMRC. The Government and other professional bodies such as the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors are all now working together to help estate agents and other industry professionals to spot particular signs that could indicate their client is money laundering. Agents are being encouraged to reinforce legal and moral obligations by reporting anything suspicious. It has been agreed that it’s important for all agents in both high and low-end estate sectors to know how to recognise the signs – such as clients being evasive or contradictory in regards to large sums of money or multiple bank accounts.
The move to include more relevant industries and sectors to tackle the crime is seen as a huge positive step in the right direction with Simon York, Director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service saying, “The extension of the Flag It Up campaign to the property industry will help bolster our efforts and sends a clear message from both the Government and the sector that the door is closing on money laundering.”
At G Herbert Banks we take our responsibilities very seriously and we do have to ask clients for more and more information to ensure that there are no concerns. Please don’t be offended when asked to provide ID and proof of funding. If we are concerned that money laundering is going on we will do our duty and report the matter.
If you would like to discuss this matter further please do call the office on 01299 896 968.
If you have found this article interesting, you may wish to read our previous post on Holiday Rental Property Investment.