RICS has issued a statement regarding money laundering saying they want to see ‘minimum competency’ requirements for sales and letting agents controlled by the industry itself.
Director of regulation for UK and Ireland at RICS, Luay Al-Khatib says the competency standards should be introduced as quickly possible and should be regulated by the industry and possibly the RICS.
Al-Khatib says RICS wants to have a major role in any future regulation of agents and told Estates Gazette magazine “the biggest issues [surrounding money laundering] are perhaps ignorance and complacency” although he says the law is clear that agents “have a responsibility to check the identity of customers.”
He continues “There’s a lot that professional bodies can do to ensure compliance by members. RICS will be applying to become a Treasury-designated supervisory body for anti-money laundering”.
This statement refers to a European Union law to be protected in UK law by mid-2017 which will allow the industry to self-regulate and check compliance.
The National Association of Estate Agents says the focus of agents should embrace identifying and considering buyers and sellers.
Director Mark Hayward at NAEA managing says “Anti-money laundering procedures in the UK have centred on the seller rather than buyer, with agents failing to appreciate the implications of the Proceeds of Crime Act”.
The founder of the Independent Network of Estate Agents and an official reviewer of new industry guidelines, Trevor Mealham had this to say “Legislation should insist properties for sale would first be identified and registered. Geo-location, property type, usage, ownrship and secondary titles could be established. Using data analysis, there could be ‘investigation triggers’ [sent] to HMRC, the Treasury, Serious Fraud Suad and so on”.
Since the actions of some of the agents filmed in the ‘From Russia With Cash’ documentary, the RICS and NAEA have both committed to report their findings of the investigations they are conducting.