The Law Society Gazette reported on 17th June 2010 that mortgage fraud continues to rise based on the latest figures issued by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. These figures are particularly worrying for conveyancers.
Peter Rodd, a member of the Law Society’s money laundering task force, said that most of the £15bn of criminal funds is laundered through property conveyancing transactions. While speaking at the Law Society’s annual anti-money laundering conference last week he noted that there is a lack of money laundering training specifically for property solicitors and conveyancers and he went on to say that information about all the latest scams could be out of date.
The main problems are, conveyancers failing to question the source of funds, asking more questions where transactions are requested to be pushed through very quickly and failing to act where there appear to be discrepancies between a buyer’s income and the mortgage they have applied for.
Many agree that conveyancers’ and solicitors’ duties in relation to money laundering (which may involve mortgage fraud transactions) are overly burdensome but the fact of the matter is that we have to be extra vigilant in these times since if money laundering is found to have taken place and the conveyancer has not detected it or asked the right questions at the right time, they will be dealt with harshly.
Money laundering convictions amongst conveyancers remains low, however, of those that are caught, the figures involved are high and the repercussions are serious. It therefore pays to be extra cautious where money laundering is suspected, so, conveyancers beware!