Urgent action needed on ‘McMafia-style’ residential property transactions, warning

Estate agents need to take urgent action to ensure they are fulfilling their anti-money laundering obligations, as new research suggested that residential property deals set off more red flags in the legal sector than any other activity.

That’s the warning from anti-money laundering specialist Fortytwo Data, which said it had found that suspicious home transactions flagged to the National Crime Agency surged 66% in two years.

It also claimed that nearly a third of all anti-money laundering (AML) reports across the entire legal sector related to residential conveyancing.

Fortytwo Data found that of the 506 AML reports in the legal profession between 2014 to 2017, residential house purchases accounted for 158 red flags.

Around two thirds of cases of wrongdoing are serious enough to be referred to Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) revealed.

Last month, the SRA launched a new Flag It Up campaign aimed at lawyers.

To put the figures into context, Land Registry figures suggest there were just over 850,000 residential transactions in 2017 alone.

That total was 14.6% down on 2016 when there were 996,650 residential transactions.

As such, the number of transactions flagged between 2014 and 2017 represent a tiny proportion of residential transactions overall.

Nonetheless, BBC crime drama McMafia, which reached its finale at the weekend, has focused attention on the way organised criminals launder their cash.

Journalist Misha Glenny, whose book McMafia inspired the series starring James Norton, said he believes London has become a “centre of laundering filthy lucre” as “unsavoury characters” from around the world buy up property.

Julian Dixon, CEO of Fortytwo Data, said: “Urgent action is needed to ensure estate agents and solicitors fulfil their anti-money laundering obligations.

“If someone is buying expensive property but doesn’t have an obvious source of income, concerns should be raised.

“Greater awareness is vital. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is heading in the right direction.

“Estate agents should identify the risk posed by individuals. But a survey of 100 estate agents found nearly a quarter didn’t have an AML officer or processes in place.

“The interesting question is, why are concerns not being raised earlier by estate agents?

“Answering this will give important insights into how money launderers are evading detection altogether and what can be done to strengthen reporting so fewer criminals slip through both nets.”

Nearly three years ago, a Channel 4 programme called From Russia With Cash, alleged that top estate agents in London were turning a blind eye to apparent money laundering by corrupt foreign buyers.

The programme featured two undercover reporters posing as an unscrupulous Russian government official called Boris and his mistress Nastya, for whom he wanted to buy a property.

The programme claimed to show that agents were made aware they were dealing with dirty money but agreed to a potential deal anyway, instead of alerting the authorities.

x

Email the story to a friend

8 Comments

  1. Trevor Mealham

    The biggest criminal hit on properties is uncovering via MPs in the House of Commons by predator banks.

    A damning s166 report has just come out in public yesterday (released early, as due 16th Feb) into how RBS targeted SMEs properties via PGs and charges on titles, leading to targeting property assets. The same happened with Lloyds HBOS.

    A report is being compiled by Dame Linda Hobbs and 5 lawyers. “Dame Linda, a retired high court judge, has been selected for her experience of working on fraud cases and track record of chairing enquiries. This independent assessment will cover the period following HBOS’s acquisition by Lloyds

    On January 18th 2018, MPs from all parties voted in the House of Commons that a Tribunal take place into RBS, Lloyds and other predator UK banks.

    In january 2017, Anthony Stansfeld, Thames Valley Police Crime Commissioner was a key driver in the arrest of 6 Lloyds HBOS staff who received a 47 year combined jail sentence for serious fraud.

    In cases banks have used pit bull lawyers who run up extortionate costs. Banks have not updated Land Registry charges under the 2002 land Registry Act, chapter 9 in order to fool judges and victims as to the TRUE SALE of pooled ‘PROMISSORY NOTES’ following SECURITISATION of target victims properties. In particular residential and commercial properties.

    Some valuers have assisted in valuing assets at ‘fire sale’ values, leaving victims with no war chest to fight bank foul play.

    Bank managers typically alter goal posts on borrowing facilities, then pushed victims into RBS-GRG, or Lloyds BSU, where costs and pressure grew. In some cases victims have faced relationship breakups. Loss of all assets, in cases losing hundreds of thousands to tens of £££s millions and in worse cases some victims have committed suicide.

    MPs are looking criminally now at bank predators, and will be using FCA rules under ‘Individual Senior Manager Accountability’ and enabler service providers such as colluding venomous lawyers, IPs and valuers who assisted asset stripping.

    This will hit some well know UK valuer brands who helped some portfolios and SMEs own homes be sold well under BMV.

    Report
  2. Trevor Mealham

    MPs minded to publish widely leaked FCA report which details banks ‘endemic’ mistreatment of customers

    The report into Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS/Natwest) is set to be published by MPs after it was widely leaked, revealing details of the bank’s treatment of nearly 6,000 struggling small businesses. Typically SMEs with property interests were targeted.

    An internal memo referred tostruggling companies – many of which had been damaged by the banking crisis – as “basket cases”, while staff were advised that “missed opportunities will mean missed bonuses”.

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/12/confidential-report-into-rbs-small-business-scandal-to-be-published

    As of this morning, the report is being leaked on the web by some victims.

    Later this year, a further report will be submitted to the FCA and MPs/Treasury Select Committee into the wrong doings of Lloyds Banking Group Companies. With Lloyds, the bank is still using predator tactics to attack and liquidate target victims assets

    Report
  3. Cheltenhamproperty98

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention Trevor. You are right to point out that this is far bigger hit criminal hit.

    Report
    1. Trevor Mealham

      Thanks Cheltenhamproperty98Have a look at this link, where Halifax (Lloyds Banking Group) pushed a man to his wits end over a £4k debt.

      https://youtu.be/veE1SS9Q6Tk

      He wanted to drive his car into a Halifax to kill himself. The retired couple recived over 7,000 pressure calls from Halifax over a 7 month period. The pressure was too much. He died. After, Halifax had to pay settlement.Lloyds is not the bank it was 10 years ago. Todays Lloyds has connections with RBS ex senior staff and ex HBOS senior staff.Noel Edmonds is also a victim of Lloyds pushing for tens of millions compensation.

      Report
  4. Cheltenhamproperty98

    Shocking video! 🙁

    I am delighted Noel Edmonds is prepared to stand up for what is right. This is not the only good cause for which he is willing to fight. I wish more well known figures would do the same.

    Report
    1. Trevor Mealham

      Yes, Ive been in contact with Noel and many other victims of lloyds BSU and RBS and others.

      They have been targeting any SME via a PG or title charge. Totally filthy. I have seen people lose from a few to many properties. One guy defaulted just twice on a 16 property portfolio. Caught payments up but was hit with ongoing huge bank and lawyer costs. Lloyds undervalued his properties and took them to sell them at £800,000 BMV and split his relationship.

      The properties were then not advertised, but sold to friends of the bank

      Another guy had 3 properties with no missed payments and the bank seized all and sold £1.5m of equity for £261k  A suicide followed related to the case.

      Have a look at this one too:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOAiFaDEdAE

      RBS GRG. Small portfolio of a developer. He was told let the bank have a share in the company or. …. he said ‘No’ days later they closed on him. He sold a family home too losing over £500k

      These bankers need banging to rights

      Report
  5. Cheltenhamproperty98

    Another enlightening video.

    I am delighted to hear that you have been in contact with Noel, supporting him with his worthy cause.

    Report
    1. Trevor Mealham

      @ Cheltenhamproperty98  There are many victims. We have been one too by Lloyds BSU and a scum manager called Martin Tyler in Kent. They changed from the trustworthy bank of 10 years ago, to a really evil predator operation.

      Ever wondered why the black horse is running away from a tragic scene?

      Report
X

You must be logged in to report this comment!

Leave a Reply