The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has issued Covid-19 related guidance to protect the UK property market from increased risks of money laundering.
The scale of serious organised crime, including money laundering is estimated to cost the UK around £24bn. This latest guidance will alert firms to potential additional anti-money laundering (AML) and corruption risks and provide options to maintain appropriate controls.
RICS said the document ensures regulated firms comply with its professional standards but does not provide legal advice on specific obligations for firms carrying out regulated activities. Advice from a legal professional or AML supervisor may still be required.
The measures included in the update cover are:
- Recommendations to update existing AML and bribery risk assessments in light of the economic and business disruption caused by Covid-19
- Plans on how to counter-act the risk of cybercrime, as criminals potentially pose as solicitors etc.
- Options to verify clients digitally and extra measures to ensure people are who they say they are
- Increased checks for high risk transactions
- Robust training and staff continuity procedures, to cover employee illness or furloughing
- Digitisation of all documents to ensure clear auditing trails remain present.
Christine O’Rourke, head of Conduct Standards, said: “RICS professionals have always adhered to principles of AML through their regulatory requirements of conduct and ethics. Last year, we set mandatory professional standards following our work with the UK Government and Transparency International to reduce the risk for the UK property market and increase market confidence.
“When money laundering is estimated to account for up to 5% of global GDP – our updated guidance supports RICS professionals to uphold their standards through Covid-19 challenges as they adapt to the new business and economic climate.”