Estate agents have been hit with unannounced inspections as part of a week-long crackdown on money laundering.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has revealed that officers visited 50 estate agents across England, including 35 in the London area, of suspected of trading without being registered - Officers have attended two estate agents in Enfield and Haringey.

The visits came as HMRC published the latest businesses hit with fines for failing to comply with the regulations. Such as a £215,000 fine on estate agent Countrywide Estate Agents.

HMRC will now take action against the visited businesses who have failed to comply, which can include fines, publication and criminal proceedings.

John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said:

“The vast majority of estate agents play by the rules and help us to crack down on dirty money. But I have zero tolerance for firms prepared to turn a blind eye to the law. Money laundering regulation exists to help protect honest business, so anyone who flaunts the law should know that swift action will be taken.”

Simon York, Director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said:

“Estate agents need to understand that criminals’ prey on weaknesses, so it’s vital they take all steps to protect themselves.

“The money laundering regulations are key to that, but there’s still a minority of agents who ignore their legal obligations. These inspections are a wake-up call that if you continue to trade illegally, we will come knocking.”

This is the first such week of action aimed at estate agents trading without registering with HMRC as legally required.

The visits involved HMRC inspectors questioning the businesses to establish whether they were trading in breach of the regulations.