Real estate dealers operating in Portugal will face new legal regulations from 26 June in a Government bid to get tough on money laundering.
These legal requirements affect the way properties for sale or rent are identified/described and govern how the control and communication of sale procedures are conducted.
The new regulations have been introduced to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism and encompass all development and estate agency activities involving the buying, selling, renting or exchanges involving property.
Among the new obligations are included the identification of clients, regardless if they are private individuals or companies, as well as the actual beneficiaries, individual tax payers or companies that own the property either directly or indirectly.
This client identification should be registered before the nature of the business is established and involves collecting the name, nationality, tax number, profession and employer or, in the case of companies, the address of its headquarters or branch or the identification of all shareholders with a shareholding of over 5%.
Real estate entities are also required to have a written register of collected information which should be retained for seven years and define risk management models to help identify operations suspected of capital laundering or the financing of terrorism.
The Government considers that this new regulation is a “fundamental step” towards making the real estate sector in Portugal more resistant to possible corruption by these type of crimes.
However, some lawyers operating in the sector warn that some smaller property agencies will find it difficult to meet the new demands.
“The information reports, the collection and collation of data demanded of the sector, whilst legitimate, will make the day-to-day operations of some of these smaller entities more difficult” stated António Oliveira e Silva, a lawyer from Broseta, Roquete Morais e Guerra told the news agency Lusa.