‘Law firm’ definition in AML/CFT bill changed

by Sol Dolor14 Aug 2017
A last-minute amendment has been made to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Amendment Bill to correct an error.

The definition of “law firm” in clause 5 was changed, ensuring a law firm partnership is treated as a single reporting entity, the New Zealand Law Society reported.

The New Zealand Parliament unanimously passed the bill, which reforms the AML/CFT Act 2009, on 3 August. Law firms will be brought into the AML/CFT regime starting 1 July, 2018. Conveyancers, accountants, real estate agents, sports and racing betting, and high-value goods businesses will also be brought into the regime.

“Extending the regime to these sectors will strengthen our ability to prevent, detect and prosecute many types of criminal activity. It is estimated these reforms will disrupt up to $1.7bn of fraud and drug crime, prevent up to $5bn in broader criminal activity, and reduce social harm by $800m over ten years,” Justice Minister Amy Adams said upon the bill’s passage.

The change follows the Law Society’s letter to Adams, where it echoed concerns of some law firms. On 1 August, Adams released Supplementary Order Paper 352, which contained the changes of the definition.

The previous version of the bill contained the provision: “Law firm means - (a) a barrister or barrister and solicitor, practising on the barrister's or barrister and solicitor's own account (whether in partnership or otherwise); (c) an incorporated law firm.”

It has been changed to: “Law firm means - (a) a barrister or a barrister and solicitor who is practising on the barrister's or barrister and solicitor's own account in sole practice; (b) in relation to 2 or more barristers and solicitors practising law in partnership, the partnership; (c) an incorporated law firm.”

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