ID and Money Laundering Rules: Why We’re (Probably) Not Accusing You of Anything

If this is the first time you’ve bought a property – or the first time in a few decades – you could be forgiven for thinking that conveyancers are really quite nosey individuals. After all, it probably feels like we’re always badgering you for personal details you might prefer to keep to yourself. 

Though we’re sure you’re an absolutely fascinating person, we can assure you that when we ask to see your ID or bank statements, it’s not because we’re angling to see how unflattering your passport photo is.  

In reality, the government have very strict rules for how we must handle transactions in order to significantly cut the risk of fraud. Property purchases have been, and continue to be, very attractive to fraudsters and criminals wishing to launder money. In order to prevent fraudsters wrangling their way into property chains, us conveyancers now have to ask far more pertinent questions than our industry colleagues may have done in the past. 

Now, this doesn’t mean that when we ask for evidence it’s because we think there’s something particularly dodgy about you. Rather, it’s because we’re required by law to ask each and every client, whoever they are, whatever they do, however low we think the chance of fraud is.  

So, before we get started in earnest on your transaction, we’ll ask you to provide three things: 

  1. Proof of your identity and the identity of anyone putting money towards your purchase. This must include photo ID and proof of your current address. 
  1. Evidence that you have the funds available for the purchase. If bank statements show a lump sum has been transferred into your bank account within the last three months, we’ll need to see a statement from the bank account it came from. 
  1. The source of the wealth. We need some kind of evidence that the funds came from a legitimate source, whether that’s the sale of another property, an inheritance, a pension pay out or by building up savings over time.  

If we didn’t ask for this evidence, it would put our conveyancers at risk of prosecution, disqualification and/or hefty fines. Equally, non-compliance here could result in our firm being fined or shut down altogether. (Which, among other things, wouldn’t get you any closer to a moving date).  

With this in mind, we hope you’ll understand that we simply can’t continue acting on your behalf if you’re unwilling or unable to provide this information. We can’t make any exceptions or take anything on trust, even if you’re absolutely definitely an upstanding citizen, or even if you happen to be related to us.  

If the extra paperwork involved in this is frustrating, you might wish to console yourself with the fact that this isn’t just for the benefit of us and the government: it’s also for you. The individuals all the way up and down your property chain will be being asked the same questions. When conveyancers make sure they’re answered sufficiently, they’re helping to protect everyone involved from knotty fraud situations.  

If you’re still not convinced and would like us to paint you a lurid picture of just how unpleasant a fraudulent conveyancing situation can be, please get in touch. Alternatively, it might be easier all round if you just let us see your passport and any relevant statements.  

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