Protecting NZ from "dirty" money

Although it sounds somewhat terrifying, there’s a good reason for the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act that’s been in force in New Zealand since 2013. According to figures released by the Ministry of Justice, about $1.35 billion from the proceeds of fraud, illegal drugs and trafficking is laundered through everyday New Zealand businesses each year.
Friday, 31 August 2018

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The AML/CFT Act applies to banks, casinos, financial institutions and some trust and company service providers. If you’ve tried to open a bank account or get a loan in recent years, you’ve been asked to provide certain identification and proof of address as well as proof of where your funds come from.  From 1 July 2018, the legislation has been extended. Real estate agents and conveyancers; lawyers and accountants; and some businesses that deal in expensive goods must comply to the Act as well.

“The law will come into effect in stages for different sectors to give businesses time to prepare for these changes,” explains Paula Lines from the Law Shop.

Lawyers, conveyancers, and trust and company service providers must comply from 1 July 2018 and providers of accounting services from 1 October 2018. Real estate agents from 1 January 2019, and dealers in high-value goods and the NZ Racing Board will be included from 1 August 2019.

All businesses and service providers covered under the AML/CFT Act, including those from the first phase, will now have reporting requirements that relate to certain transactions and they must also report suspicious activities.

The law changes are a practical measure to protect Kiwi businesses and to make it harder for criminals to profit from and fund illegal activity. They’ll also safeguard and help New Zealand live up to its reputation as being one of the least corrupt countries in the world and a great place to do business.

“In the past, as your lawyers, we may have primarily dealt with you at a distance until it came time to sign the paperwork, but these days we need to view your identification prior to acting for you. The main change for you will be having to provide all the necessary information at the beginning of the transaction,” Paula says.

“People just need to be aware that some extra information may be required from them during certain transactions. Even if you have been a customer of businesses such as ours for a long time, we may still need to ask you to confirm that you are who you say you are and, in some cases, tell us where the money you are going to use has come from.

“If you want to get a jump start and make sure things keep running smoothly, it’s best to contact us ahead of when you need our firm to act for you. It’s best to have everything in place and ready to go. Just give our Tauranga or Rotorua a call and we’ll get things sorted.” 

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