Agent demands revisions should be made to Money Laundering requirements

Tuesday 22 September 2015  / Ruth Montia

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Sanfords estate agency is demanding that the NAEA and HMRC take action to revise requirements for sub- agent due diligence. The outcome of two investigations into allegations surrounding London property money-laundering is still awaited. After the Channel 4 documentary ‘From Russia with Cash’, money laundering has been a hot topic.

Sandfords’ director, Andrew Ellinas says HMRC lack understanding as to how London’s market works. He says “We understand what is required of us and of our responsibilities but there is an issue when it comes to sub agent due diligence – checking vendors are who they say they are”.

He insists “One agent might find a buyer for a property marketed by another agent. If agreed, they can sell the property for a percentage of the commission fee. As it currently stands, not only would the principal agent have to undertake due diligence against the vendor but also the sub agent [would have to], which is near on impossible”.

He believes the primary agent who instigates the relationship with the vendor should have to authenticate their identity, the legislation should permit this information to be passed on to the sub agent, rather than the sub agent conduct a separate investigation.

Ellinas claims that many agents share his view stating:

“After attending NAEA master classes on this exact subject and speaking with industry experts, nobody has any clear view on how an agent is supposed to act, and the reason being is that HMRC don’t understand the intricacy of the London market. 

“Whilst the industry appreciates that all agents need to take responsibility and know who they are working for, the NAEA needs to be talking to government bodies to ensure agents are protected and aren’t getting fined for going about their normal business.”