The OFT updates guidance for real estate agents amid the issuance of fines for non-compliance Image

The OFT updates guidance for real estate agents amid the issuance of fines for non-compliance

Published: Friday, 11 November 2022

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has updated its anti-money laundering, combatting the financing of terrorism and counter-proliferation financing (AML/CFT/CPF) guidance for the real estate agent (REA) sector.

The revised document contains important updates to the pre-existing guidance, including:

  1. updates to the definition of letting agents;
  2. updated guidance about conducting customer due diligence;
  3. additional guidance on source of funds and source of wealth; and
  4. additional guidance on counter-proliferation financing.

The new guidance, can be accessed and downloaded here.

The guidance has been issued while the OFT continues with its onsite inspection programme. The inspections, to be carried out on all REAs, aim to ensure that these businesses are effectively meeting their AML/CFT/CPF obligations under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2015 and the Sanctions Act 2019 to prevent money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing.

In the past year the OFT has carried out 24 onsite visits to REAs. It has issued 8 fines amounting to £11,500 for identified breaches of REA’s AML/CFT/CPF obligations. It is currently in the process of issuing 6 further fines amounting to between £6,400 and £15,000.

The OFT therefore strongly encourages all REAs to read the new guidance carefully and to become acquainted with their legal obligations under POCA and the Sanctions Act 2019 to avoid sanctions for non-compliance.

The OFT also wishes to remind business that more guidance is also available on the OFT’s website and that the OFT is open to feedback from the sector about any specific guidance it may require.

Should any business have any questions or feedback regarding the guidance, they should contact the OFT who will be delighted to assist.