18th August 2020
I was dismayed to read in The Times this morning that Purplebricks, the online estate agency, has been fined £266,793 for beaching the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations. Yet another estate agency bringing down our industry’s already tarnished reputation!
Money laundering is a very serious criminal activity, in which property is often used. We must all do our part to curb this activity but it would appear some agencies don’t take their responsibilities as seriously as others. Purplebricks are advertising their sponsorship of the Olympics on TV, projecting a clean-cut, respectable, image. Yet their local agents are cutting corners and disregarding legislation. We spend an inordinate amount of time and money on ensuring compliance with the AML Regulations, as I know do many of our independent peers.
To rub salt into the wound, it has just been announced that the CEO of Purplebricks, Vic Darvey, and the Chief Financial Officer, Andy Botha, have been awarded shares worth in excess of £3m. The company posted a financial loss in its last set of accounts of £9.4m. For a company that continues to operate at a loss, year after year, it’s amazing how senior management can earn such remuneration.
Last year, Countrywide, the high street agency with the most branches in the UK, was fined £215,000 for similar breaches of the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations. Countrywide, which trades under various local brands including Bairstow Eves and Bridgefords in Yorkshire are currently going through a branch closure programme. It would appear the management team haven’t got a grip on this operation either.
Big is not always better – especially in estate agency!