Practice Editor AccountingWEB
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HMRC’s AML clampdown acts as a wakeup call for accountants

15th Apr 2019
Practice Editor AccountingWEB
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Business definitions: Laundering

Accountants have been reminded to review their internal AML policies after HMRC slapped non-compliant MLR estate agents with big penalties.

Following a week-long money laundering crackdown, HMRC knocked on the door of 50 estate agents across England in March.

The unannounced investigations of estate agents trading without MLR registration continued HMRC’s public naming and shaming of businesses that do not comply with the regulation.

Unsurprisingly, considering HMRC’s targeting of estate agents, many recent additions to the list are from the sector. The biggest fine of £215,000 went to Countrywide Estate Agents for MLR failures such as conducting due diligence, the timing of verification and proper record keeping.

“Estate agents need to understand that criminals prey on weaknesses, so it’s vital they take all steps to protect themselves,” said Simon York, director of HMRC’s fraud investigations. “The money laundering regulations are key to that, but there’s still a minority of agents who ignore their legal obligations.”

No clean slate for accounting firms

While estate agents took the brunt of the fines, HMRC AML-supervised accountants and tax agents did not get away with a clean slate.

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