The latest list of businesses that have received fines for not complying with the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds Regulations 2017, is a harsh reminder to agents to ensure they are up to date and following the necessary procedures. This is according to Paul Offley, Group Compliance Officer at The Guild of Property Professionals, who adds that The Guild is reminding estate agents to keep a watchful eye on their HMRC Government Gateway Account especially for messages and updates relating to AML supervision.
Offley says that many agents ‘miss’ an important message regarding their renewal or information relating to responsible people, which can have severe consequences for firms. “A business that misses their AML supervision renewal can face penalties which are based on turnover for the number of days they fail to be registered,” he advises. “In almost all cases this is not intentional but gets overlooked for a variety of reasons, for example in the instance where the Government Gateway account is managed by an accountant for finance purposes and the AML section gets overlooked.”
He continues: “It is also important to keep information on your ‘responsible people’ up to date including the names of all Directors, whether active in the business or not, and evidence of training which they have received.”
Offley recommends to Guild Members that they have a process for checking the AML part of their Government Gateway on a regular basis to avoid any potential issues.
“However,” Offley says, “this is only one part of helping to keep compliant and if you are a responsible person, you should be able to demonstrate that your business risk assessment, AML Policies and procedures are all up to date. It is also imperative that you have a record of training which has been provided to teams, that you have processes in place to ensure AML verification is completed in a timely manner and that record keeping is maintained.”
In conclusion, he adds, AML need not be a complex procedure and having a clearly defined process can ensure consistency and compliance.