Property Industry 'Must Have Houses In Order' On Anti-Corruption Compliance

Legal Experts Call On Businesses To Review Systems Following PM’s Comments


Karen Roberts, Press Officer | 0207 400 8714

Businesses operating in the property sector must not ignore the significant reputational damage they could suffer by failing to ensure their financial crime compliance systems are robust, according to specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, reacting to the Prime Minister’s vow this week to stop UK homes from being bought with ‘dirty money’.

Speaking in Singapore, David Cameron has announced plans to increase efforts to tackle corruption and raised specific concerns regarding the purchase of UK homes with “plundered or laundered cash”.

He added that recent trends pointed to properties in London being purchased by non-trading shell companies by people from overseas for the purpose of money laundering.

The issue was recently highlighted by the National Crime Agency, which warned that such problems were having an impact on house prices in the capital and the UK, as well as a Channel 4 documentary.

Reacting to Mr Cameron’s comments, specialist regulatory lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have said it is vital that property businesses react swiftly to these concerns and ensure that they have systems in place to counter such activity.

Expert Opinion
“This issue is very much in the public eye at present, so it is unsurprising to see David Cameron make a statement regarding taking action on it.

“Property businesses simply cannot ignore the issue and the significant reputational damage which could emerge if it transpires that they have been used as a knowing or unknowing conduit of the proceeds of crime.

“At this point, it would undoubtedly be wise for property businesses and their advisers to review their financial crime compliance systems and controls to ensure that they have adequate anti-money laundering procedures in place.

“The aim must be to ensure they are not working under a misapprehension about the effectiveness of their money laundering compliance. A tick box approach to compliance on money laundering very rarely works and it would be vital for any businesses with concerns to ensure they seek advice on how to improve their processes and develop better practices if required.

“Any robust reviews that businesses can undertake now to understand the financial crime risks they face may be time well spent in the long run.”
Sarah Wallace, Partner