OFT slaps £246,655 fine on three estate agents

Three estate agents have been fined a total of £246,665 by the OFT for failure to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.

Hastings International UK Limited (Hastings) is an estate agent with two premises in south London and was fined £47,966, they have until 24 April 2014 to appeal.

Jackson Grundy Limited (Jackson Grundy) has its head office in Northampton and operates its estate agency business from 10 premises, it was fined £169,652 and has until 17 April 2014 to appeal.

Cardiff-based Jeffrey Ross Ltd (JRL) had two premises in the city during the OFT investigation period and was fined £29,000.

The Regulations are designed to prevent businesses from being used for money laundering or terrorist financing purposes and under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, the OFT may impose a penalty of such amount as it considers appropriate for failure to comply with certain provisions.

Regulated businesses are required to apply risk sensitive policies and procedures to verify customer identity, record keeping, training staff and reporting suspicious activity to the National Crime Agency.

The failures in all three cases 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.

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.’

On 31 March 2014, the OFT’s anti-money laundering powers and responsibilities in respect of estate agents will pass to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

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