Conveyancers provide certain services that operate as a gateway to property and financial markets, financial institutions and other regulated professionals.
These ‘gatekeepers’ provide financial services that can be abused to disguise beneficial ownership, conceal the origins and purposes of financial transactions, facilitate tax evasion and, ultimately, launder the proceeds of crime.
The Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (ML/TF) risks associated with conveyancing include:
- Operating through or behind a professional adviser can provide a veneer of legitimacy to criminal activity;
- Conveyancers can facilitate a process that allows for the transfer of ownership of property, a high-value asset that provides ideal opportunities for laundering large volumes of illicit funds;
- Transactions may involve a disproportionate amount of private funding/cash, which is inconsistent with the profile of the purchaser;
- Transactions may be unusual because of the manner of execution;
- Funding or involvement of third parties without apparent connection or legitimate explanation;
- Request to act for multiple parties without meeting them;
- Transactions being inconsistent with the age and profile of the parties; and
- Clients may provide false of counterfeited documentation to confirm their identity.
Conveyancers must ensure the organisation conducts a comprehensive ML/TF risk assessment to identify, assess, mitigate and manage ML/TF risk exposures as a critical first step in complying with AML/ CFT laws.