Anti-money laundering: Suspicious Activity Reports filed by agents only 0.2% of total

Suspicious Activity Reports filed by agents only 0.2% of total
Suspicious Activity Reports filed by agents only 0.2% of total

The number of estate agents reporting potential money laundering activities has risen but still represents only a tiny proportion of all reports.

A new report says that in the 18 months between October 2015 and March this year, there were 766 Suspicious Activity Reports by estate agents.

This represented just 0.2% of the total number of the 634,113 reports during the period.

The 18-month figure compares with a 12-month period when the National Crime Agency reported that between October 2015 and September 2016, there were 514 reports by estate agents, again representing just 0.2% of the total.

Banks and building societies were the biggest reporters of suspicious activity during both periods.

While estate agents are almost at the bottom of those industries that need to report money laundering suspicions, the number has risen – possibly in part due to increased awareness following the C4 From Russia With Cash programme, where undercover filming of agents with a clearly dodgy Russian buyer, Boris, was shown in July 2015.

The National Crime Agency says that in the year 2014/2015, estate agents were responsible for just 355 reports.

Agents, financial institutions and law firms are responsible for sending suspicious activity reports (SARs) to the NCA as part of their anti-money laundering responsibilities to raise red flags when they detect potentially illegal activity such as overseas property buyers paying in cash.

The latest figures represent the period before the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financial Directive was brought into force in June 2017, which says estate agents must now perform checks on both buyers and sellers and can receive unlimited fines for failing to do so. Letting agents remain exempt from the new directive.

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