New Zealand has passed a law called the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (“the AML/CFT law” for short). The purpose of the law reflects New Zealand’s commitment to the international initiative to counter the impact that criminal activity has on people and economies within the global community.
Recent changes to the AML/CFT law mean that from 1 July 2018, lawyers must comply with its requirements. Even though this new law does not start until 1 July 2018, we are instituting procedures now so that we are compliant by 1 July.
Lawyers must do a number of things to help combat money laundering and terrorist financing, and to help Police bring the criminals who do it to justice. The AML/CFT law does this because the services law firms and other professionals offer may be attractive to those involved in criminal activity.
The law says that law firms and other professionals must assess the risk that the community may face from the actions of money launderers and people who finance terrorism and identify potentially suspicious activity.
To make that assessment, lawyers must obtain and verify information from prospective and existing clients about a range of things. This is part of what the AML/CFT law calls “customer due diligence” (“CDD”).
CDD requires a law firm to undertake certain background checks before providing services to clients. Lawyers must take reasonable steps to make sure the information they receive from clients is correct, and so they need to ask for documents that show this.