In its first AML prosecution of a high value dealer, the UK’s HMRC has fined Bedfordshire company director Grenville Eames £16,000 for failing to abide by the Money Laundering Regulations 2007. Eames’ company, JGE Commercials Limited, was also fined £16,000 and ordered to pay a confiscation order of £135,900 within three months. Eames had registered his company – a truck and plant hire company which buys and sells commercial and large plant vehicles – as a High Value Dealer with HMRC because he wanted to continue dealing in large amounts of cash, and thus became subject to the requirements of the Regs. And under the Regs, all HVDs who take €15,000 (in any currency) or more in cash must provide documentary evidence of checks made on the client’s identity and the source of the funds for the transaction. Eames was arrested after early morning raids at his home and business addresses in September 2012, and investigations showed that he had failed to keep the required records for large transactions totalling an estimated £170,000. According to Adrian Farley, the man from the HMRC: “The money laundering regulations are in place for a very good reason, to protect the public and to stop crooks benefiting from their criminal profits. Eames kept poor records and had numerous chances to correct the situation but failed to do so. As a result he was charged and prosecuted.”
I have always found the HVD aspect of the Regs intriguing. For a start, I have often wondered why the obligation to register falls only on those trading in goods for cash, and not services – it’s the cash that’s the issue, not the thing for which it is exchanged. And – given the number of times I am asked to explain during training just what the HVD category is, and who is covered, and what it involves, and this to an AML-educated audience – I am not at all convinced that the general public (and in particular the business-owning general public) has been told enough about it. So how many HVDs are there that don’t realise that they are HVDs and so have not registered? And of those that have registered, how many realise quite what that entails? Now that HMRC has drawn first blood, I rather suspect that we may see many more HVD prosecutions.