Airbnb’s UK operation is under scrutiny by the City watchdog over fears it could be exploited for money laundering purposes
Although there is no evidence it has yet been used this way, The Times reports that the Financial Conduct Authority is assessing whether the legendary short lets service has sufficient anti-money laundering measures in place to catch criminals.
Airbnb - popular with many landlords as well as travellers - has discovered gaps in its financial systems in the last year, according to its own trading statements.
Airbnb Payments UK, a subsidiary of Airbnb itself, was told by the FCA some 15 months ago that it should review how it handled customer funds, after a review of other regulated payment providers found many were not adequately ring-fencing people’s money, potentially creating problems if a company were to go bust.
Another newspaper report on the issue - the Daily Telegraph- says: “Airbnb alerted the regulator to gaps in compliance and said it was taking steps to fix the problems. The FCA then conducted its own review of how the firm safeguards its customers’ money.”
At the time the FCA found Airbnb had taken appropriate steps. However, the same review identified “certain issues with APUK’S [Airbnb Payments UK’S] anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing systems and controls”.
The FCA is now expected to give its response to new new measures which Airbnb has put in place to handle AML issues.
Airbnb globally is about to float on the New York Stock Exchange in a move likely to value the company at US $30 billion.
The platform worldwide registered US $38 billions of bookings last year.