Syed Rahman of business crime specialists Rahman Ravelli emphasises the importance of vigilance in the property sector.

Online estate agency Purplebricks has been ordered to pay more than £260,000 for money laundering failings.

HM Revenue & Customs fined Purplebricks for breaching laws on money laundering, saying it was guilty of "failures in having the correct policies, controls and procedures, conducting due diligence and timing of verification".

Since 2017, estate agencies have been responsible for conducting checks on the finances of clients, in an alempt to stop the proceeds of crime being laundered through the buying and selling of property. HMRC is able to carry out spot checks at any time to ensure such checks are being carried out.

Purplebricks has stated that it has now improved its compliance procedures following a comprehensive review of its working practices. It said that the fine dated back to activity from two years ago.

The fine imposed is a stark reminder to estate agents of all sizes that HMRC will not hesitate to enforce proceedings should there be a lack of anti-money laundering controls and compliance.

Property is - and probably always will be - one of the most common methods for criminals to hide money. That is why responsibilities have been placed on estate agents - and why all estate agents have to have adequate compliance programmes in place to reduce the risk of money laundering.

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