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‘The property sector is a great target for money launderers’ – Smart Search

by: John Dobson, CEO, SmartSearch
  • 20/12/2019
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‘The property sector is a great target for money launderers’ – Smart Search
Recently I saw a report about a milkman from Ormskirk in Lancashire getting a 16-month suspended prison sentence after police found him in possession of £180,000 in cash.

 

He had been given the cash by money launderers, who had paid him to deliver it. This was pretty ham-fisted. But there are many sophisticated operators out there, capable of pulling the wool over everybody’s eyes.  

If we want to stop the criminals in their tracks, we all need to be on our guard. 

The property sector is a great target for money launderers: high-value transactions mean they can wash large amounts of dirty cash in one go.  

Even if firms caught up in it – and the individuals running them – are not aware of what’s going on, regulators will still take a dim view if they can’t evidence that they’ve done all they can to avoid being sucked in.  

Prevention is better than cure, and a lot better than prosecution, so it’s important to have the right systems in place. 

It’s not in anybody’s interests to stop co-operating on something as important as financial crime, and this has in any case increasingly been taken forward on a global scale. 

 

Paper vulnerable to fraud

If we want to stay one step ahead of the criminals, we must be smarter than them.

We’re still waiting for the final detail of what the UK government plans to do but one thing is clear: secure electronic verification methods are going to be the new standard.  

It’s a bit late in my view, but that’s got to be the right move. Traditional paper trails are wide open to fraud and forgery by skilled criminals; electronic checks are much more robust and effective.  

As well as being more secure and reliable, electronic anti-money laundering (AML) checks are also much quicker and cost effective.  

It takes just seconds to run a full individual AML check and not much longer for a corporate check – including verification of ultimate business owners. All checks include full sanctions and PEP (Politically Exposed Person) checks.  

This is essential to ensure businesses remain compliant as it is practically impossible to achieve with manual checks. 

Businesses need to start getting ready for the new rules now.

 

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