Yellow Springbok's Anti Money Laundering
HM Revenue and Customs monitors the estate agency industry for criminals trying to "launder" their proceeds - turning dirty money into clean money through property.
The property market is a prime target for criminals, both nationally and internationally, because there are often fewer checks. The days of armed bodyguards turning up with a metal briefcase stuffed with cash are long gone, but cash buying is still a relatively easy way to get dirty money into the system.
Set up a few shell companies, move some money around so they look like normal businesses, then transfer dirty cash and buy UK property with a willing third party's name on the deeds. Wait a year or two, then sell. Money laundered.
It's a huge problem in the fast-buy industry because we deal with cash buyers - and cash is the hardest type of money to track, trace or verify for criminal sources. If the bad guys can find a property company that doesn't ask enough questions, the rest is a walk in the park.
At Yellow Springbok, we are the gatekeepers: it's our responsibility to make it as hard as possible to get dirty money into the system.
We're required (by law) to report anything that looks suspicious, so that HMRC can investigate - and so we don't become unwitting accomplices in illegal activity. Sometimes, we work together to keep the deal going so they can catch criminals red-handed.
To abide by money laundering regulations and ensure our clients are not involved in fraudulent activity, we've put strict controls in place. In practical terms, this means we run multiple checks when you ask to sell your property through us:
- Your name
- Your address
- Photo ID
- Your financial background
We use a variety of sources to do this, including paperwork for your home, the electoral register and online resources such as Experian credit checks.
When a Yellow Springbok representative visits for the first time, they will ask you to present the necessary documents - originals, please - and will take copies for our records. You should prepare by gathering at least the following:
- Your home's building insurance
- Bank statements (at least 6 months) for the account you'll use to receive sale proceeds, with your current address on them
- Photo ID - ideally two, such as a driving licence with paper counterpart and current passport
- Your council tax bill
- At least two utility bills for the property
You should also tell us if you've changed your name in the last couple of years.
If we have any doubt about an individual's identity, we will discontinue any activity until we can establish the facts to our complete satisfaction. If we suspect any kind of fraudulent activity, we will immediately report it and work with the authorities to investigate, catch and prosecute guilty parties.
Please note that we may perform extended verification in certain situations. If your circumstances suddenly change mid-deal, if there's a lot of money involved in the sale, if the funds are coming from an anonymous source (such as offshore banks) or if it's an international purchase, for example. Anything where there's a high risk of money laundering activity.