The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (the “AML/CFT” law) has been in force for some years now mainly affecting banks and other financial or investment entities. This reflects New Zealand’s commitment to counter the impact that criminal activity has on people and economies within the global community.
From 1 July 2018, lawyers are now required to also comply with the AML/CFT Law. We must do a number of things to help combat money laundering and terrorist financing, and assist the Police bring criminals to justice.
After 1 July 2018, we are required to file reports within 10 working days of receiving or paying funds internationally through our trust account, in excess of $1,000. These reports are mandatory to be filed with the FIU, the financial intelligence arm of the Police.
Our obligation as lawyers is to obtain and verify information from prospective and existing clients, primarily concerning themselves and the nature of their activities. This is our “customer due diligence” (‘CDD’).
CDD requires us to obtain and verify certain information from you including:
- full name
- date of birth
Regardless of whether we already know you, we need to view and take copies of documents such as your passport, and accounts or statements that show your address, (such as a recent utility bill), will be required.
If you represent a company or a trust, we need information about the company or trust including the people associated with it (such as directors and shareholders, trustees and beneficiaries).
In some cases, we may need to ask for further information, such as the nature and purpose of the proposed work you are asking us to do for you. Information confirming the source of funds for a transaction may also be necessary to meet the legal requirements.
If we are not able to obtain the required information from you, we may not be able to act for you.
As mentioned, we may require this information from you even though we have been acting for you for many years. Ultimately, the law requires all law firms to obtain this information in relation to all clients they act for.
Before we start any new work for you, we inform you what information and documents we need to see and photocopy. When you visit us, please bring your passport and a recent utility bill with you. If you do not have a passport, there are other documents that can be used. Please speak to the person you usually deal with at Alex Lee Lawyers.