Only one in every 300 property purchases by overseas cash buyers are triggering red flags with the National Crime Agency (NCA), anti-money laundering specialists Fortytwo Data warned today.
This means 26,400 homes are sold each year to overseas cash buyers in Britain, where 1.2 million property transactions were the subject of only 355 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) in the year to March 2016.
SARs are red flags sent by institutions, law firms and estate agents to the NCA when they detect suspicious activity.
The number of SARs submitted by estate agents to the NCA rose by 98.3% in only a year, being the highest rise of any sector.
Julian Dixon, chief executive of Fortytwo Data, said: “There is no doubt that 355 SARs generated by all estate agents is a tiny number.
“That figure seems to be on the right trajectory but the industry still has a long way to go.
“The residential property market is a golden opportunity for criminals, who are able to take advantage of a sector that, in the past, has not been subject to such stringent money laundering requirements as financial institutions.
“Bricks and mortar is as attractive as ever to organised crime. It’s an ideal way to deposit large sums of cash in a single transaction, allowing them to blend in with the thousands of legitimate cash buyers who purchase property each year.”