Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Cen­tre puts an ad­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity on es­tate agents

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

IN RE­CENT years es­tate agents have found they are ex­pected to per­form a polic­ing/check­ing ser­vice on be­half of the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Cen­tre.

Un­til now, this has in­volved ver­i­fy­ing the iden­tity and proof of ad­dress of sell­ers and land­lords, as well as re­port­ing sus­pi­cious or un­usual trans­ac­tions and pos­si­ble ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity.

Sean McCauley, north­ern re­gion di­rec­tor of Raw­son Prop­er­ties, says agents have been given a fur­ther duty, known as cash-thresh­old re­port­ing.

“Cash-thresh­old re­port­ing pro­vides a mech­a­nism to monitor re­ported cash trans­ac­tions, so that po­ten­tial pro­ceeds of crime are iden­ti­fied and in­ves­ti­gated. Any es­tate agent who re­ceives R25 000 or more in cash from a client, or pays out R25 000 or more in cash to a client, must im­me­di­ately re­port the par­tic­u­lars of the trans­ac­tion to the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Cen­tre,” he says.

“Cash is de­fined as notes, coins or trav­eller’s cheques and ex­cludes pay­ment by cheque, bank trans­fer or elec­tronic trans­fer. The ob­jec­tive seems to

Cash trans­ac­tions over R25 000 must be re­ported im­me­di­ately

be to keep track of ‘hot money’.

“ T r a d i t i o n a l l y, m o n e y earned from il­le­gal (pos­si­bly even ter­ror­ist) ac­tiv­i­ties has found a safe, not eas­ily traced, haven in prop­erty but that will now be more dif­fi­cult.”

From De­cem­ber 1 all es­tate agen­cies and their branches are ac­count­able in­sti­tu­tions un­der the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Cen­tre Act (Fica) and will have to ac­quire sep­a­rate se­cure lo­gin cre­den­tials from the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Cen­tre to re­port these cash-thresh­old trans­ac­tions.

Es­tate agents are also by law now obliged to in­form the SA Rev­enue Ser­vice of any prop­erty sale by non-res­i­dents (any per­son who is not a South African cit­i­zen). With the as­sis­tance of the con­veyancer the agents have also to withhold five to 10 per­cent of the pur­chase price from the seller. This is used as se­cu­rity for the pay­ment of cap­i­tal gains tax.

McCauley says the role of es­tate agents is in­creas­ingly re­spon­si­ble. They are seen as part­ners with Fica and Sars in en­sur­ing good gov­er­nance.

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