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Estate Agents: Money Laundering

Question for HM Treasury

UIN 12787, tabled on 21 October 2015

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many investigations into estate agents have taken place under money laundering regulations in the last five years.

Answered on

29 October 2015

In 2014-15 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) issued 677 penalties to the total value of £768,000 across all the sectors it regulates. HMRC considers that releasing the number of investigations and visits made to businesses in different sectors could enable opportunists to identify where resource is being focussed, allowing criminals to arrange their activities accordingly to escape challenge. HMRC must protect information which could be used by criminals in this way and therefore is not able to release numbers on how many investigations are conducted in the Estate Agency Businesses (EAB) sector. HMRC took on supervision of Estate Agency Businesses under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) on 1 April 2014. Since becoming supervisor HMRC has used a range of interventions such as face to face visits, telephone interventions and webinars to reach hundreds of businesses in the EAB sector, and test and challenge their compliance with the Money Laundering Regulations. In addition to direct interventions, as supervisor, HMRC conducts risking work which involves using a range of sophisticated data exploitation tools - including their state-of-the-art Connect system - to identify cases which warrant further investigation. It is not possible to quantify how many businesses have been looked at in this way, as it is a routine aspect of supervision for HMRC. Where cases require criminal investigation, they are passed to HMRC's Fraud Investigation Service. HMRC is unable to disclose details of cases which are currently under criminal investigation for operational reasons.

I can confirm that estate agents that do not hold client money fall within the scope of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.

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