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Crackdown on unlawful estate agents

Dozens of estate agents have been fined more than £500,000 for infringing anti-money laundering rules, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced this week.

In a statement, HMRC named 68 estate agents that were fined a total of £519,645 for not complying with rules designed to stop criminals laundering money from illegal activity.

The fines included the first prosecution of an estate agent for trading despite not registering with HMRC. Up to 175 businesses received fines totalling more than £2.1m for failing to comply with money laundering regulations, representing a substantial increase over the previous number. In an earlier list released in May, 147 businesses, including 41 estate agents, received penalties totalling almost £800,000.

Nick Sharp, HMRC’s deputy director of economic crime, said: “We are determined to create a level playing field for businesses who play by the rules. That means taking action against the minority of businesses who fail to fulfil their legal responsibilities under the money laundering regulations.

“Money laundering is not a victimless crime. Our regulations are there to protect businesses from those criminals who would prey on their services to wash their dirty money. Serious and organised crime costs the UK billions of pounds every year and our anti-money laundering (AML) supervision is a vital tool in combatting that.”

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