South London firm Hastings International UK was fined £47,966, Northampton-based Jackson Grundy, which has 10 branches, was fined £169,652 and Cardiff-based Jeffrey Ross was fined £29,000.
Kate Pitt, OFT deputy director of anti-money laundering, said: “The Money Laundering Regulations are designed to detect, deter and disrupt financial crime.
“We fined these three estate agents as they were failing to comply fully with the regulations and so were more vulnerable to money laundering or terrorist financing activity.”
The failures of all three firms, which were were described by the OFT as “significant and widespread”, include;
– Failures to apply adequate customer due diligence measures when carrying out estate agency work
– Failures to conduct ongoing monitoring of business relationships
– Failures to establish and maintain appropriate policies and procedures on adequate record-keeping, internal controls or risk assessments
– Failures to train relevant employees in how to recognise and deal with transactions and other activities which may be related to money laundering and terrorist financing
Hastings and Jackson were fined by the OFT on 26 March 2014 and have until 24 April 2014 to appeal.
JRL was fined on 19 March 2014 and has until 17 April 2014 to appeal.
On 31 March 2014, the the OFT’s anti-money laundering powers and responsibilities relating to estate agents passes to HMRC.