HMRC Fines Real Estate Agencies £500,000 for Anti-Money Laundering Violations
HMRC has issued a total of £519,645 in fines to 68 estate agents that failed to comply with rules to prevent money laundering.
The fines have been issued in order to ensure compliance with AML regulations after the first prosecution of a real estate agent who was trading without registering with HMRC.
Felix Uwuigbe, director of Century House Estates in London, was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid community service and banned from acting as an estate agent for two years after he was convicted of trading for three months while unregistered.
The complete list of businesses not complying with money laundering regulations sees 175 companies receiving penalties totalling £2,180,708.
The list was previously published in May 2022, which saw 147 businesses, including 41 estate agents, receive penalties totalling almost £800,000.
HMRC says it is currently investigating a number of other cases of businesses failing to register whilst trading, which could lead to prison sentences of up to two years and an unlimited fine.
Nick Sharp, HMRC’s deputy director of economic crime, said: “We are determined to create a level playing field for businesses who play by the rules. That means taking action against the minority businesses failing to fulfil their legal responsibilities under the money laundering regulations.
“Money laundering is not a victimless crime. Our regulations are there to protect businesses from those criminals who would prey on their services to wash their dirty money.
“Serious and organised crime costs the UK billions of pounds every year and our anti-money laundering supervision is a vital tool in combatting that.”
Martin Cheek, managing director of SmartSearch, commented: “Once again, estate agents, unfortunately, find themselves in the spotlight for compliance failures with 68 firms fined more than half-a-million pounds. This latest round of fines and ongoing pattern of non-compliance clearly shows the urgent need to improve standards in the sector.”