How Anti-Money Laundering (AML) legislation affects you
Why we need to ask you for information
New Zealand has passed a law called the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (“AML Act” 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 throughout the world.
Recent changes to the AML Act mean that from 1 July 2018 lawyers must comply with its requirements. Lawyers must take several steps to help combat money laundering and terrorist financing, and to assist Police identify possible criminal activity and the individuals behind it. Law firms offer services (such as maintaining client accounts) that may be attractive to criminals.
Under the AML Act, lawyers must obtain and verify information from prospective and existing clients about a range of things. This is part of what the AML Act calls customer due diligence (CDD). In addition, lawyers are obliged to report certain transactions and any suspicious activity to the Police.
Customer due diligence requirements
CDD requires a law firm to undertake certain background checks before providing services to clients or customers. 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.
To meet our obligation under the AML Act to verify your identity, we will need to obtain certain information from you.
This information includes: your full name, date of birth and address.
To confirm these details, we require documents as shown below.
Proof of Address
If you are seeing us about company or trust business, we will need information about the company or trust including the people associated with it (such as directors and shareholders, trustees and in some circumstances beneficiaries).
We may also need to ask you for further information, such as the source of funds or wealth and (if not obvious) the purpose of the proposed work you are asking us to do or you.
Before we start working for you, we will let you know what information we need, and what documents you need to show us and let us copy.
If you cannot provide the required information
If we are not able to obtain the required information from you, it is likely we will not be able to act for you. Because the law applies to everyone, we need to ask for the information even if you have been a client of ours for a long time.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the lawyer who will be dealing with your work.