New RICS standard sets out key professional obligations to mitigate risks of financial crimes

RICS is consulting on a new standard designed to help property professionals and regulated firms address the risks posed by bribery and corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing.

Money laundering

The new draft standard, called the “Countering bribery and corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing” Professional Statement, sets out the obligations for RICS professionals and regulated firms to minimize their exposure to these risks and guard against these financial crimes in their day-to-day business operations.

Through an extensive global consultation, RICS aims to engage professionals and industry stakeholders on whether the proposed Professional Statement meets their needs and sets out their obligations to mitigate the impact of these risks on their business practices.

The property sector is a well-known target for illegal financial activity because it is used as a vehicle to legitimise or “clean” the proceeds of illegally obtained funds, often in a single transaction.

This is supported by research conducted by the internationally recognised Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an organisation that works with governments to support legal and regulatory requirements to root out money laundering, terrorist financing and related threats within the global financial system. Other international bodies such as the United Nations and Transparency International have also identified the property sector as particularly vulnerable to illicit funds.

“The risks of bribery and corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing cut across our profession, regardless of geography or industry specialism. If these risks are not appropriately identified and managed, they could have a direct impact on day to day work, as well as on businesses and consumers, and the trust these groups place on professionals. By setting out the obligations of RICS professionals and regulated firms, the Professional Statement promotes transparent and ethical business behavior which promotes market confidence in the profession.”

The construction sector is also known for illegal financial activity especially through bribery and corruption during procurement and contractual processes. Research by global consulting firm, PwC, in its 2014 Global Economic Crime Survey, identified construction as one of a number of sectors particularly prone to incidents of bribery and corruption. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) also identified construction as a high risk sector, globally, for bribery and corruption, often through state procurement processes. 

The Professional Statement aims to provide a clear description of how to manage the risks posed by bribery and corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing and is aligned to the RICS Rules of Conduct. It sets out professional and ethical behaviour by providing practitioners and firms with clear and consistent principles on what constitutes a breach of conduct.

“Our focus on bribery and corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing is not new for RICS or for the profession in general. Governments legislate against these crimes, some organisations have strict policies that guard against them and most individuals understand the repercussions associated with them. As a global professional body, RICS has a responsibility to ensure that we set out the minimum requirements and obligations for our professionals and regulated firms to ensure their activities do not involve or facilitate bribery, corruption, money laundering or terrorist financing. It is therefore imperative that our practitioners, regulated firms, clients of surveying services and other stakeholders participate in the consultation and that our final standard reflects the reality of a modern profession and professional practice.”

Once finalized, the Professional Statement will apply to all RICS professional disciplines and is global in scope. The consultation runs from May to July and is available at www.rics.org/amlps  

Notes to Editors: 

The proposed Professional Statement defines the terms as follows:

  • Bribery: The offer, promise, giving, demanding or acceptance of an advantage as an inducement for an action, which is illegal, unethical or a breach of trust.
  • Corruption: The misuse of public office or power for private gain; or misuse of private power in relation to business practice and performance.
  • Money laundering: The processing of criminal proceeds to disguise their illegal origin. Processing may include hiding, transferring and/or recycling illicit money or other currency through one or more transactions.
  • Terrorist financing: The methods of providing funds to terrorists or terrorist groups in order to carry out their illegal acts.

Read our latest reports

  1. Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Through The Real Estate Sector by Financial Action Task Force (FATF) 
  2. Estimating illicit financial flows resulting from drug trafficking and other transnational organized crimes by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
  3. Faulty Towers: Understanding the impact of overseas corruption on the London property market by Transparency International

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