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News & opinion

15 JUN 2018

Addressing anti-money laundering in the UK

With the opening of the RICS’ public consultation on a new professional statement to help property professionals and regulated firms address the risks posed by bribery and corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing, we take a deeper look at the threat of anti-money laundering in the UK and why there is a collective necessity to tackle it.

An increasing issue

With money laundering an ever-increasing issue in property, as a sector, organisations acting collaboratively and quickly in order to stem this problem is vital.

The property sector is particularly vulnerable to money laundering and the professional statement will manage the risk not only to RICS professionals but to other parties, increasing market confidence in the profession.

The new professional statement will work alongside and enhance RICS’ pre-existing obligations for RICS professionals on anti-money laundering, bribery and corruption which can be found in the Rules of Conduct for our members.


With claims that £4.4 billion of UK property potentially being purchased with suspicious wealth, MPs announced their commitment to probe the scale of money laundering across the nation in March 2018.

The Treasury Select Committee are also looking into terrorist financing with the chair, stressing the London property market is increasingly a destination to launder the proceeds of overseas crime and corruption.  

A world-first register revealing owners of overseas companies buying property in the UK will go live by early 2021 to crack down on criminal organisations laundering dirty money in the UK. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s register will require overseas companies that own or buy property in the UK to provide details of their ultimate owners. This will help to reduce opportunities for criminals to use shell companies to buy properties in London and elsewhere to launder illicit proceeds by making it easier for law enforcement agencies to track criminal funds and take action.

The government will publish a draft bill this summer and will introduce it in Parliament by next summer. Following legislation, the register would go live by early-2021.

Mitigating the risks

Although government are aware of the issues and are taking action, RICS professionals are at the front line in the UK and being alert to the risks and how to manage them is key to helping curb the problems.

In a climate where the UK is seen as a ‘safe place’ to invest in property, it is imperative that we do all we can to mitigate the risks of bribery and corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing. Setting out obligations of RICS professionals and regulated firms through a professional statement will promote transparent and ethical business behaviour which, in turn, will drive up market confidence in the profession.