AML letters on wooden blocks

AML anxiety in estate agency hints at bigger issue

Purple Bricks’ introduction of a £60 anti-money laundering (AML) charge caused outrage within the estate agency industry earlier this month. It was perhaps the death knell before the announcement that the company is now considering a sale to “better realise the potential of the group”.

The online company’s AML move incensed estate agents across the country with one declaring it “scandalous” on LinkedIn and another that “they will be on ‘Rip off Britain’ shortly”. It certainly got the industry hot under the collar, but perhaps more revealing was the sky-high levels of engagement on the topic across social media platforms and industry publications.

Compliance has clearly become as serious a concern for estate agencies as it is for conveyancers. There is now significant angst in the estate agency sector regarding AMLs and a similar burden of responsibly seems to be weighing heavily on the minds of conveyancers too. All are fearful of missing the compliance check that lands them with a hefty fine or, at worst, the threat of a jail term.

But what was lost amid the estate agency AML uproar and is reflected in many conveyancing marketing campaigns around “staying compliant” is how vital AML checks are to tackling crime in our country.

If we are to overcome cyber criminality and money laundering throughout the property sector, then there must be a clear AML narrative across all parties. Money laundering is not a victimless crime, it has severe impacts across our society and economy and funds countless criminal underworlds. In short, AMLs are our best means of protecting the vulnerable and ourselves from criminal activity.

So yes, estate agents do usually burden the cost of those first AML checks, but it is also right that the client pays for others during the conveyancing process. Participation in AML checks is something that every property professional should take pride in and every client should understand and appreciate.

So next time you are running “yet another” AML check, PEP and Sanctions, or ID verification, give yourself a silent pat on the back, because your work is part of a huge crackdown on “dirty money” in the property sector and one we should all be applauding.

Article written by Lynne Lister, MD of X-Press Legal Services (pictured)

Lynne Lister, MD of X-Press Legal Services

This article was submitted to be published by X-Press Legal Services as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Conveyancer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Conveyancer.

2 Responses

  1. I understand the need for AML supervion activities to be carried out. But as usual the cost of this is being passed onto the client selling their property and again as usual it is one size fits all. There is no common sense applied. For the ordinary home owner or even an owner of a residential park home when they do not even own the land, no difference is made. I could easily supply normal id checks which would not require much analysis to realise that I am not a Russian oligarh trying to launder money from the purchase or sale of a 300k property!!

  2. When did we all become criminals who must prove their innocence? This is worse than any WW2 film where casual citizens are stopped to “show your papers”

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