Why everyone needs to be aware of money laundering

Why everyone needs to be aware of money laundering

Ever wondered why we’re so strict about the identification we ask you for? Or why we do such thorough checks on the source of funds for your property purchase?

It’s because of money laundering.

You might think that this has nothing to do with you; you just want to buy a house! But money laundering is the third biggest industry in the world and property transactions are a frequent target for criminals. So it’s something we have to take very seriously.

Recent research identifies London property as a top destination for money launderers. Researchers found that 91% of the overseas companies that own land titles are registered in tax havens. That means it’s impossible to track down the source of the cash that has bought the property.

But it happens outside the wealthy bubble of central London too. A Gloucester taxi driver was jailed this week for money laundering and other offences, having used £89,000 of criminally obtained funds to help buy the house he lived in with his family.

What is money laundering?

Money laundering means putting illegally obtained funds – ‘dirty money’ – into legitimate deals so it subsequently appears ‘clean’. With the average house in the UK now worth over £200,000, criminals have seized on the opportunity to transfer large amounts of money into legal property deals. So even the lowest level property purchase could be part of a bigger money laundering scheme. The Liverpool Echo reported recently on a case the National Crime Agency brought against a suspected drug dealer. He agreed to hand over 13 houses in the city – worth £745,000 in total – that the Agency believe were bought with proceeds from drug trafficking, mortgage fraud and tax evasion.

Safeguarding against money laundering

Every one of our clients has to provide identification that meets very strict standards of proof and we also carry out our own ID checks on clients. When it comes to tracing the source of deposit funds we will go back as far as is necessary to make certain that everything is above board.

Joanne Collins, Conveyancing Manager at PM Property Lawyers, comments: “We know clients sometimes find it frustrating when we have to go back to them repeatedly to trace the source of their funds. But it really is important. Imagine how you would feel if you found out the money you paid for your house had gone straight into the pocket of a gangster or drug dealer. If we aren’t absolutely scrupulous about preventing money laundering, the repercussions for both clients and the conveyancer can be huge.”

If you have any questions about our anti-money laundering policy we’d be happy to answer them. Just give us a call on 0114 249 6926.

Comments are closed.