Central Bank of Belize and FIU joint response to The Economist articles in Vol. 424, No. 9048 of July 8th - 14th 2017    FIU Advisory 0001-2017 – CFATF’s List of Jurisdictions with Strategic AMLCFT Deficiencies    Changes to the Consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanctions List

Dealing in Real Estate

Real estate brokers or sales representatives are individuals or entities that are registered or licensed in a province to sell or purchase real estate. They have to implement a compliance regime when they act as an agent regarding the purchase or sale of real estate. This includes the buying or selling of land, buildings, houses, etc.

If you are a real estate broker or sales representative, this requirement does not apply to you for activities related to property management. This means that if you only deal in property management transactions, such as leases or rental management, not purchases or sales, the compliance regime requirement explained in this guideline do not apply to you.

If you are an employee of an individual or entity who is also subject to these requirements, your employer is responsible for the compliance regime. For example, if you are a sales representative who is an employee of a real estate broker, the compliance regime requirement is the responsibility of the broker.

The Money Laundering and Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2008 states “a person who intends to or is carrying on the business of dealing in real estate shall apply for registration with the FIU”.

There’s an application fee to register your business with the FIU. Section 85A (3) states A person who contravenes this section commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than ten thousand dollars or to imprisonment for twelve months or to both.

To download a copy of the registration Form R101 and guide for registration click here.

Reporting

Suspicious transactions

You must report where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a transaction or an attempted transaction is related to the commission or attempted commission of a money laundering offence or a terrorist activity financing offence. You may report an STR to the FIU within 3 days. You may access the STR Form by clicking here.

Terrorist property

You must report where you know that there is property in your possession or control that is owned or controlled by or on behalf of a terrorist or a terrorist group.

Large cash transactions

You must report to the FIU large cash transactions involving amounts of $15,000 or more received in cash on a quarterly basis. To access the quarterly transaction report form click here.

Record Keeping

You must keep the following records:

  • Large cash transaction records
  • Receipt of funds records
  • Client information records
  • Copies of suspicious transaction reports

Ascertaining Identity

You must take specific measures to identify the following individuals or entities:

  • Any individual who conducts a large cash transaction,
  • Any individual or entity for whom you have to keep a client information record or a receipt of funds record, and
  • Any individual for whom you have to send a suspicious transaction report.

Third Party Determination

Where a large cash transaction record is required, you must take reasonable measures to determine whether the individual is acting on behalf of a third party. When a client information record is required, you must take reasonable measures to determine whether the client is acting on behalf of a third party. In cases where a third party is involved, you must obtain specific information about the third party and their relationship with the individual providing the cash or the client.

Compliance Regime

The following five elements must be included in a compliance regime:

  • The appointment of a compliance officer/money laundering compliance officer,
  • The development and application of written compliance policies and procedures,
  • The assessment and documentation of risks of money laundering and terrorist financing and measures to mitigate high risks,
  • Implementation and documentation of an ongoing compliance training program,
  • A documented review of the effectiveness of policies and procedures, training program and risk assessment

Penalties for Non-compliance
Non-compliance with Money Laundering & Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2008 and the Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions Regulation, 2014 may result in criminal or administrative penalties.