The traditional Scottish estate and land agent discusses how LexisNexis® Risk Solutions modernised its anti-money laundering checks to help firm up its regulatory foundations.
Bell Ingram’s land management roots stretch back to the Victorian era and its heritage is proof of its success. The firm has moved with the times where estate and land agency are concerned, now covering renewable energy alongside traditional, centuries-old family estates.
But when it wanted help updating its personal identity verification systems it sought to find a trusted partner. Moira Webley, deputy money laundering reporting officer, joined Bell Ingram in 2016 as a property assistant and soon began encouraging the firm to modernise the way it confirmed the identities of its clients. After contacting three separate firms, LexisNexis® Risk Solutions emerged as the clear winner.
“As an older, established business we wanted to bring our anti-money laundering systems up to date and adopt something that could help us in the long-term,” Moira says.
“We contacted a variety of different companies but LexisNexis Risk Solutions offered us an anti-money laundering software that gave us instant results, that was simple to operate and that was good value for money.”
The firm now uses LexisNexis® IDU® software to complete anti-money laundering checks for residential buyers and sellers as well as landlords and tenants to make it compliant with HMRC regulations. And it goes much further, much more quickly, than the checks the company used to perform.
“We realised years ago that static identity data – such as passports, bank statements and utility bills – don’t actually verify who the person is,” Moira says. “One look at a passport will not tell you if you are dealing with somebody who is politically exposed or somebody that comes from a sanctioned country.”
Although the company felt its risk of succumbing to fraud was relatively low, given its transactions are focused predominantly in rural Scotland rather than higher risk money laundering locations such as London, Moira says IDU brings much needed certainty to the firm.
"Even if we never ever came in to contact with any kind of criminal activity, regardless of how low-risk elements of our business activity were, we could always be at risk of failing to show HMRC that we are AML compliant and we’re doing what we’re expected to do,” she says. What’s more, Bell Ingram has been able to harness IDU’s powerful database to check its existing client bank.
“Lots of our clients in departments like land agency and forestry management have been with us a very long time, so we retrospectively made sure we are covered from a regulatory standpoint in relation to these clients,” Webley says.
“We have now worked our way back to check all of our existing customers, so that we can make sure company-wide we are up to standard. Everyone is now very much more aware of what needs to be done.”
Beyond this, IDU is being used by Bell Ingram in its commercial business. Once the people with significant control of a company have been identified, LexisNexis® Risk Solutions’ system is used to perform AML and KYC checks.
“We’ve made such great progress as a firm in terms of our AML requirements. The whole company is really onboard with IDU, as it means everyone knows exactly what they need to do.”