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A fiasco! Compliance expert lifts the lid on chaotic ‘launch’ of latest money laundering regime

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What a fiasco!

I don’t think Sir Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, the writers of Yes Minister, could have come up with this storyline.

The Government had two years to prepare and implement the new Money Laundering Regulations, and ultimately they introduced them on the last day, giving agents just one day to prepare for the biggest change in legal obligations to hit estate agency in ten years.

During the process they had two consultations and appear to have ignored almost all the contributions to that process.

HMRC were then obliged to publish guidance on how they expect estate agents to comply with the new Regulations.

It looked as if this might work out fine, because they passed their draft guidance to a few stakeholders who would provide some good feedback, so that a sensible guidance document could be published!

When I received the draft, it was the old guidance that appears to have been amended by a committee, all amending independently.

Never mind, I thought, we can improve on this quite easily.

OK, they only allowed two weeks for comment but we could all provide comments by the deadline of June 28 and then HMRC would consider the comments and publish decent guidance a couple of weeks later.

On June 26, my four pages of comments were ready to go, but I thought I would ruminate over them for a day or so and send them in on the 28th, when lo and behold at lunchtime on the 26th my inbox had an email from HMRC that had attached to it the published guidance!

This can’t be right, I thought, because the consultation doesn’t end until the 28th.

I opened it and there was the official guidance: it was the unamended draft guidance published as the official guidance!

The only saving grace was that it did say it was interim guidance.

Maybe that means it will be updated after they have considered our comments and sensible guidance will be put in place – but then again …

I have produced a short presentation that will outline the changes agents will need to put in place. It is available free of charge to Property Industry Eye subscribers from today.

Agents will need to enter their name and email address to log in to see the 10-minute update presentation at Free Money Laundering Update

* David Beaumont runs a compliance consultancy specifically for agents and he writes articles and gives advice to EYE subscribers via the free compliance helpline on 0161 727 0798.

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