The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is working on a new draft standard, called the ‘Countering bribery and corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing’ Professional Statement. This standard aims to set out the obligations for RICS professionals and regulated firms, to minimise their exposure to these risks and guard against these financial crimes in their day-to-day business operations.
Speaking about the Professional Statement, Peter Bolton King, RICS’ global director of professionalism and ethics said “If these risks are not appropriately identified and managed, they could have a direct impact on day-to-day work, as well as on businesses and consumers and the trust these groups place on professionals. By setting out the obligations of RICS professionals and regulated firms, the Professional Statement promotes transparent and ethical business behavior, which promotes market confidence in the profession.”
The property sector is a well-known target for illegal financial activity, because it is used as a vehicle to legitimise or ‘clean’ the proceeds of illegally obtained funds, often in a single transaction. This is supported by research conducted by the internationally-recognised Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an organisation that works with governments to support legal and regulatory requirements, to root out money laundering, terrorist financing and related threats within the global financial system. Other international bodies, such as the United Nations and Transparency International have also identified the property sector as particularly vulnerable to illicit funds.
The construction sector is also known for illegal financial activity, especially through bribery and corruption during procurement and contractual processes. Research by global consulting firm, PwC, in its 2014 Global Economic Crime Survey, identified construction as one of a number of sectors, particularly prone to incidents of bribery and corruption. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) also identified construction as a high risk sector, globally, for bribery and corruption, often through state procurement processes.
“Our focus on bribery and corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing is not new, for RICS or for the profession in general. Governments legislate against these crimes, some organisations have strict policies that guard against them and most individuals understand the repercussions associated with them. As a global professional body, RICS has a responsibility to ensure that we set out the minimum requirements and obligations for our professionals and regulated firms, to ensure their activities do not involve or facilitate bribery, corruption, money laundering or terrorist financing. It is, therefore, imperative that our practitioners, regulated firms, clients of surveying services and other stakeholders participate in the consultation and that our final standard reflects the reality of a modern profession and professional practice,” added King.
The Professional Statement aims to provide a clear description of how to manage the risks posed by bribery and corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing and is aligned to the RICS Rules of Conduct. It sets out professional and ethical behavior by providing practitioners and firms with clear and consistent principles on what constitutes a breach of conduct. Once finalised, the Professional Statement will apply to all RICS professional disciplines and is global in scope.