HMRC announced last month that it had fined 24 estate agency and property businesses for anti-money laundering (AML) breaches between April and June 2022.
A list of all the companies issued with fines for breaching rules such as not registering with HMRC or for not conducting due diligence was published.
It showed that the largest fine was issued was to Ealing-based agency Helliwell & Co Properties for £92,267, while Yorkshire-based Wilman & Lodge also saw a double digit fine of more than £13,000, according to the list.
HMRC said all the agency fines were for failing to apply for AML registration at the required time and none of the businesses appealed.
EYE published this information at the time it was released in good faith, but it later transpired that a mistake had been made, as Wilman & Lodge did not actually receive a fine.
A tax officer at HMRC wrote to the the estate agency, informing its accounts department that on 1 April 2022, a letter had been issued informing Wilman & Lodge that a penalty was to be issued “for trading whilst unregistered”.
But the penalty was later no longer deemed appropriate after Wilman & Lodge submitted representations – on 16 May 2022 and 16 August 2022 – to the tax officer, which ultimately affected the decision.
However, Wilman & Lodge was still mistakenly named and shamed by HMRC, which claimed that the business had been fined £13,300.
A spokesperson for Wilman & Lodge told EYE: “As you can imagine this has caused a great concern and upset that our reputable company name has been wrongly branded for breach of AML regulations/registration.”
The estate agency shared with EYE a letter and email received via HMRC ECS Registration Team that confirms that the firm did not receive a penalty.
EYE has been in touch with HMRC direct and can confirm that the taxman made a mistake.
An apology has been issued by HMRC ECS Registration Team to Wilman & Lodge.
HMRC fines estate agents more than £500,000 for AML breaches