HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) fined dozens of estate agents in the UK for breaking anti-money laundering regulations.
HMRC released the names of 68 estate agents who had violated anti-dirty money regulations and received fines totalling £519,645 (€592,800).
The announcement made today comes after the first estate agent was prosecuted for operating without an HMRC registration.
Felix Uwuigbe, Director of Century House Estates Ltd in London, was found guilty of conducting business for three months while not being registered with HMRC. He was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid community service and a two-year ban from acting as an estate agent.
The Deputy Director of Economic Crime at HMRC, Nick Sharp, stated in a statement: "We are determined to create a level playing field for businesses who play by the rules."
"That means taking action against the minority of businesses who fail to fulfil their legal responsibilities under the money laundering regulations," he continued.
"Money laundering is not a victimless crime. Our regulations are there to protect businesses from those criminals who would prey on their services to wash their dirty money… Serious and organised crime costs the UK billions of pounds every year and our anti-money laundering supervision is a vital tool in combating that," according to Mr. Sharp.
175 companies were fined a total of £2,180,708 (€2,487,751.69) for breaking money laundering laws, which is a 173% increase in fines from the May 2022 figures.
According to HMRC, the first companies in the arts industry have been punished for failing to comply with their AML obligations as of the most recent announcement of fines.
The Revenue cautioned that failure to register a business while it is operating may result in prison terms of up to two years and a "unlimited" fine and said it was presently looking into a number of other such situations.
By fLEXI tEAM