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Property firms issued with substantial money laundering fines

  • 17/05/2022
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Property firms issued with substantial money laundering fines
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has slapped a host of property businesses, including estate agents and valuers, with fines for breaching anti-money laundering regulations.

The taxman has published the full list of firms who received penalty notices for failing to comply with the rules around money laundering.

Breaches identified by the taxman include failing to apply for registration at the required time, failing to carry out risk assessments, having incorrect policies and controls in place and not carrying out the correct training for staff to prevent money laundering.

The largest fine issued to a property firm was the £52,000 levied against Bond Wolfe Auctions, a property auction house based in Birmingham. This was for failing to apply for registration at the required time.

A spokesperson for Bond Wolfe Auctions, said this was down to a misunderstanding over the reach and scope of the regulations.

They said: “Despite a regular dialogue with HMRC on the usual matters concerning tax on the setting up of our auction division, they did not advise us until some time later that we also had to register for a scheme entitled ‘The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer)’.”

The original fine was discounted to a payment of £39,000 as it was settled immediately.

The spokesperson added: “We regard this as a disproportionately high penalty for an oversight which is levied purely and simply because of our turnover level – in effect a tax on us launching so successfully from the outset.”

Other sizeable fines include the £13,000 penalty notice handed to Venture Residential Lettings, a lettings agent in Luton, and the £13,100 fine issued to Orinsen, a commercial property consultancy. Both firms had failed to apply for registration in the correct timeframe.

Meanwhile Lloyds Property Group, based in Ilford, Essex, was fined £15,000 for a handful of breaches including failing to carry out risk assessments, failing to have the correct policies, controls and procedures in place, failing to conduct due diligence, and not applying for registration in time.

HMRC points out that while these firms were found to be in breach of the regulations, they may have “changed their behaviour” and so are no longer non-compliant.

All of the firms mentioned in this piece have been approached for comment.

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