IRD won’t confirm Auckland firm under scrutiny

by NZ Lawyer01 Jun 2016
An Auckland law firm may be under investigation by Inland Revenue over links to the exiled leader of Kazakhstan revealed in the Panama Papers.

But Inland Revenue would not confirm the investigation, Radio NZ reported.

The Panama Papers reveal that the family of an exiled Kazakhstan prime minister, who was previously convicted of corruption, is using New Zealand law firm Cone Marshall to help hide ownership of their $15m London home.

Cone Marshall has denied that there is anything improper in the business setup; however Prime Minister John Key said the IRD will be looking carefully at the law firm.  He also said that he did not know the details of the new revelations about the firm but said they are only allegations at this stage.

The firm doesn’t appear on the registered list of reporting entities regulated by the Department of Internal Affairs under anti-money laundering rules.

Geoffrey Cone, a partner in the firm, said trust companies report to the department under the laws but that lawyers report separately under the Financial Transactions Reporting Act to police and the Law Society, under the code of ethics and the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act.

“As a matter of good practice our law firm reports voluntarily under the AML (anti-money laundering) regulations,” Cone told Radio NZ.

Key said the firm is subject to anti-money laundering regulations and said the firm would be scrutinised by IRD officials.

"Not only will they, they have the complete legal authority to do so, and actually the responsibility,” Key said.

“Under part one (of the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2009) these firms get audited every two years to make sure they comply with the law which is, know your client, know the source of funds.”