Lawyers and property sector “almost don’t communicate suspicions of money laundering”

It is hardly surprising, but it is essentially illegal. GAFI (also known as FAFT) – the financial task force against money laundering – has compiled an inconvenient dossier on the extent to which business sectors communicate suspicions of money laundering, concluding that lawyers and estate agents almost never comply with what are essentially “the rules”.

In the period 2012 to 2016, lawyers and financial consultants for example only flagged two ‘suspicious transactions’ in the whole five year period, while the property sector only reported 10 cases where money laundering ‘could have been involved’.

Considering in just one of those years (2013) 420 houses were purchased in cash for a total value approaching 17 million euros, GAFI watchdogs suggest all involved were “deficient in the application of rules” drawn up to try and prevent money laundering.

GAFI’s findings however are only ‘advisory’. They do not carry sanctions.

Thus this is one of the week’s ‘hidden stories’, reported by Jornal de Negócios, picked up by Expresso, and likely to disappear into the ether quite rapidly.

Only the financial sector comes out in a good light, explains Expresso, with GAFI “praising” the Bank of Portugal and CMVM for all the efforts both institutions make to flag suspicions dealings.

Implies the JdN story, it is heartening to see financial regulators doing their jobs, but not so inspiring to realise that of the thousands of millions of euros worth of business done in this country – all of it involving lawyers – so little is given the scrutiny that is required to try and tackle a global scourge.

[email protected]