Property Sector Increases in AML Compliance

Sector data analysis and insight by Credas Technologies, the leading identity verification checks provider, shows that UK estate agents are contributing significantly to another annual increase in the number of UK companies registering for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) supervision.

Since 2018, it has been a legal requirement for UK businesses to register for AML supervision to make it difficult for money launderers to exploit businesses by using them to ‘clean’ money obtained through illegal practices. In the ensuing years, more and more businesses have taken the step to register for AML, and the number keeps rising.

In 2020-2021, HMRC reported that 30,602 businesses had registered for AML supervision, rising from 26,194 in the previous year. Now, in 2021–2022, the number has increased by a further 0.9% to 30,866 registered UK businesses.

The latest analysis by Credas Technologies reveals that the business sectors that have contributed the largest increase are the art market, up 358%, and letting agent businesses, up 191% since last year. However, these two sectors were not even placed under HMRC supervision until 10th January 2020, which explains why they are now seeing such an enormous increase in registrations.

Regarding the most well-established AML sectors, the estate agency is leading the way with a 3.7% annual increase in registrations, rising from 11,416 businesses in 2020–2021 to 11,843 in 2021–2022.

This means that, since 20182019, the sector has seen a 48% overall increase in AML-registered businesses as estate agents lead the surge to clamp down on criminal economic activity.

In the past year, estate agents have also accounted for the second-largest proportion of all AML registered businesses (38.4%), behind only the accountancy sector (46%).

The next largest AML sector is Trust or company service providers, which account for just 4.4% of registered businesses, money service businesses (3.1%), and art market participants (3%).

Surprisingly, IT and digital payment service providers make up the smallest proportion of AML registered businesses in an increasingly digital world, accounting for just 0.2% of the total.

Tim Barnett, CEO of Credas Technologies says: ‘Once again, it is estate agents that are proving to be the most proactive professionals when it comes to tightening the net against money laundering within UK business. The UK property market has long been a common target for money laundering, and for far too long, it’s been easy for them to exploit the property purchasing process to wash their ill-gotten gains.’

‘Every new estate agency business that registers for supervision is making it harder for these criminals to succeed in their illegal endeavours. That is fantastic news for everyone, except the criminals.’