Registration for anti-money-laundering (AML) supervision is rising in the UK, according to research from identity verification software vendor, Credas Technologies, using data supplied by HMRC.

In the year 2020-21, HMRC reported that 30,602 businesses had registered for AML supervision, rising from 26,194 in the previous year: a 16.8 percent increase.

Last year, the number increased by a further 0.9 percent to 30,866 businesses.

Since 2018, it has been a legal requirement for UK companies to register for AML supervision to prevent criminals from using them to launder cash.

The art and letting-agent markets show the biggest increase in AML supervision. However, these sectors were only placed under HMRC supervision in 2020, leading to the surge in registrations.

Overall, art market participants make up just three percent of AML registered businesses, says Credas.

With these sectors stripped out, estate agents and accounting firms remain in the vanguard of attempts to clamp down on illegal activities, as more and more individuals or entities seek to launder cash through the property sector or hide illicit cash by other means.

Tim Barnett, CEO of Credas Technologies, said, “The UK property market has long been a common target for money laundering, and for far too long it’s been easy for them to exploit the property purchasing process in order to wash their ill-gotten gains.”

Oligarchs’ use of the multimillion-pound London property sector, in particular, was a key focus for the anti-Putin sanctions introduced by the UK in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.

According to the research, IT and digital payments service providers make up the smallest proportion of AML-registered businesses, accounting for just 0.2 percent of the total.

Meanwhile, trust or company service providers account for just 4.4 percent of registered businesses, followed by money service providers (3.1 percent).