Estate Agents hit with Money Laundering Fines

As we read the news that Estate Agents Countrywide Estate Agents and Tepilo Ltd have been hit with fines of £215,000 and £68,595 and from HMRC for Money Laundering offences and  that HMRC had visited 50 estate agents that they suspected of trading without being duly registered as required under the money laundering regulations I’m sure a fair few of us smiled and thought either “about time” or even “serves them right”

Now this might have been coming from a position of strength and knowing that registration was all taken care of and further that compliance was under control especially if as ICPA members we were using the AMLCC compliance system to record our work ready for when our supervisors come calling.

But maybe some were smiling and think “there but for the grace of god” because Accountants can’t sit back smugly and assume that we are all duly registered and compliant because undoubtedly this is not the case.

The necessity to supply your Money Laundering Supervisors details to secure an Agents Services account is acting as a catalyst for late registrations and not just from those Accountants qualified by experience. We all know by now that if we are to be involved with MTD4Vat we need to have an Agents Services Account so if you are not qualified you have to have registered with HMRC but if you are a member of one of the supervisory bodies you have to let them know you need to be supervised usually via their practising certificate routes.

I have taken calls from practising Accountants who are not registered with HMRC and from qualified Accountants who have not bothered to inform their Institute that they are actually practising so maybe those of us that are fully compliant shouldn’t smirk but maybe we should be shaking our heads and muttering under our breath.

Now for those of us who are properly registered and are working assiduously at fulfilling our requirements let’s not rest on our laurels, let’s not think for a moment that nothing happens to those that don’t fulfil their Money Laundering obligations, let’s not think that the time and money we are spending on training our staff and ourselves in Money Laundering is wasted because the “Cowboys” aren’t doing it and nothing happens to them.

If you are a practising accountant you need to be supervised for Money Laundering purposes and then you need to fulfil your obligations then and only then can you smile when you read these headlines and if you are not supervised I say to you don’t delay, don’t think nothing will happen to you, you are breaking the law so please do what you know you should do. 

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