New bill would bring lawyers under anti-money laundering regime

by Sol Dolor15 Mar 2017
The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Amendment Bill (AML/CFT) was introduced to Parliament on Monday.

The bill brings lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, conveyancers, high-value goods dealers, and gambling service operators into New Zealand’s AML/CFT regime, as part of the second phase of the AML/CFT Act 2009. Under the second phase, the sectors will be required to know their customers and who they are acting for in high-risk transactions.

In addition to being required to report large cash transactions, lawyers would also need to report suspicious activity. They would also be required to develop and maintain a risk assessment and compliance program. More details on the requirements for lawyers are provided by the Ministry of Justice here.

The law is expected to be passed by midyear, with different sectors brought in by no later than the following dates:
  • Lawyers and conveyancers - 1 July 2018.
  • Accountants - 1 October 2018
  • Real estate agents - 1 January 2019.
  • High-value dealers and the New Zealand Racing Board (which administers sports and racing betting) - 1 July 2019
The government estimates that about $1.3bn from fraud and illegal drugs is laundered through New Zealand businesses each year. The AML/CFT laws aim to protect business and stop criminals from profiting from and funding illegal activity.

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