Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Questions (521)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

521. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if anti-money laudering obligations of banks are the same for property service providers regulated under the Property Services Regulatory Authority; what constitutes improper conduct which a property service provider must report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5225/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I understand that the Minister for Finance will be answering this question insofar as it relates to the anti-money laundering obligations of banks.

The Property Services Regulatory Authority, which is under the aegis of my Department, was established in April 2012 under the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011, and is responsible for controlling and regulating Property Service Providers (i.e. Auctioneers.Estate Agents, Letting Agents and Management Agents). To enable the Authority to exercise its regulatory role, Section 65 of the 2011 Act provides that the Authority "shall, following the receipt of a complaint, or may of its own volition, cause such investigation as it thinks fit to be carried out..." to identify any "improper conduct" which has or is being committed by a Property Services Provider.

A Property Services Provider is a "designated person" for the purposes of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010. To comply with that Act, designated persons are required to have a range of measures in place to ensure that customers are not laundering money or financing terrorism. This includes identifying and verifying the identity of customers and beneficial owners, training their staff, keeping records etc. and making Suspicious Transaction Reports as necessary to An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners.

Under Section 42 of the 2010 Act, where a Property Service Provider knows, suspects or has reasonable grounds to suspect, on the basis of information obtained in the course of business that another person has been or is engaged in money laundering or terrorism financing they are required to make a Suspicious Transaction Report to An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners. All Suspicious Transaction Reports are subsequently investigated as appropriate by the law enforcement authorities to examine any links such transactions may have to any form of criminal activity.

I can further inform the Deputy that it is my intention to confer the relevant powers under the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 on the Property Services Regulatory Authority, by way of an order under Section 60 of that Act, to enable that Authority to monitor property service providers for the purpose of securing compliance by such providers under the requirements of the Act. I understand that it is the intention of the Property Services Regulatory Authority, once such powers are delegated, to include as part of its normal regulatory investigations, an examination of how property service providers are complying with their obligations under the 2010 Act.