Labour's Lammy sets sights on tackling financial crime

In a keynote speech at a conference held by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) on 21 May 2024, Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy MP, announced policies to combat corruption, including increased registration requirements for trusts which are widely used to disguise the ownership of assets such as property.

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Propertymark’s Head of Policy and Campaigns, Timothy Douglas, attended the event and spoke to Lammy about the need to reform anti-money laundering rules to support property agents and how regulation would support a crackdown on financial crime, protect consumers and ensure professional agents don’t face barriers to doing business.

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Ownership must be clear

The sales and lettings sectors, property auctions, and high-value dealers are all attractive targets for those looking to launder money. While the property sector remains largely unregulated, and without minimum standards to operate, the industry is vulnerable to attack.

Propertymark’s July 2023 position paper, Reducing economic crime in the property sector, emphasised that to maintain integrity in our housing market it is vital to know who the ultimate owner of a property is.

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Ambitious plans at home and abroad

Lammy wants to create a live database of beneficial ownership of companies and trusts, to allow for faster investigation of financial crime, as well as an international anti-corruption court to prosecute serious financial crime, all of which will need international agreement.

In the UK, he stated that a Labour government would lead a crackdown on enablers using sanctions laws, offer significant financial rewards to whistleblowers, look for ways to ban professional enablers from entering the UK and increase the registration requirements for trusts.

Propertymark would welcome improvements that allowed property agents to legally rely on verification of beneficial owners on the Register of Overseas Entities (ROE) as part of their Customer Due Diligence. We have lobbied for the ROE to be updated in real-time and for Companies House to be adequately resourced to ensure they can verify the provided information and the ROE is accurate

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14 Jul 2023
Reducing economic crime in the property sector

The PRS has a big role to play

Propertymark has campaigned for Money Laundering Regulations to include all letting agents and landlords to reduce the risk of cash payments being used to ‘clean’ dirty money.

Unlike estate agents, letting agents hold a significant amount of money from deposits, rents and service charges which highlight the opportunities for cash payments to be made.

The UK Government should remove the EUR 10,000 monthly rent threshold and set this at zero to create consistency and cover all tenancies in the private rented sector.

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