The government has told the estate agency industry that it has a “moral” obligation to report suspicions about potential money laundering.
Figures released over the weekend show that from April 2017 to March 2018, estate agents submitted 710 suspicious activity reports compared with 5,036 from accountants and 2,660 from independent legal professionals.
Now the Home Office says it is working with professional bodies including the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, the National Association of Estate Agents and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors to help agents spot the signs of money laundering and reinforce their legal and moral obligations to report suspicious activity.
It is focusing on agents in a campaign called Flag It Up - which has already been aimed at the legal and accountancy professions.
“Criminals who seek to use this country as a place to launder money should be in no doubt that they have nowhere to hide. Estate agents are a crucial line of defence against them and that’s why they’re under a legal – and moral – obligation to file a report when they spot something amiss” says Ben Wallace, minister for National Security and Economic Crime.
“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” he says.