Exposure draft released of new anti-money laundering laws

  • Amy Adams

New Zealanders and affected sectors will have their chance to have input into a new draft law to combat the $1.3 billion laundered each year by criminals, Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced.

The Government announced in June that it would fast-track the second phase of its Anti-Money Laundering (AML) reforms to cover lawyers, accountants, real estate agents and other high-value dealers.

Since that time the policy has been fully developed and costed. As part of that work, the Government commissioned Ernst & Young to provide an independent report into compliance costs, which showed the reforms may impose up to $1.6 billion over ten years on New Zealanders.

“Money laundering is the life-blood of profit-motivated crime. It allows criminals to fund their lifestyle and it fuels re-investment in criminal ventures,” says Ms Adams.

“Our goal is to make sure the regime is as effective as possible, while minimising the impact on businesses and their customers. We need to address the real risks money laundering and terrorist financing pose, while also ensuring compliance costs are as low as possible.

“Consulting on the exposure draft gives affected sectors, businesses and New Zealanders the chance to have their say on whether we’ve struck the right balance between countering the financing of organised crime and putting a burden on the livelihoods of hard-working New Zealanders.”

It is estimated that around $1.3 billion from the proceeds of fraud and drug offending is laundered each year in New Zealand.

“These reforms alone have the potential to disrupt up to $1.7 billion in fraud and drug crime over the next decade. This will mean less crime and fewer victims. Estimates also suggest it may prevent up to $5 billion in broader criminal activity and reduce about $800 million in social harm related to the illegal drug trade.

“The reforms will also protect and help New Zealand live up to its reputation as being corruption free and a good place to do business. They will bring us into line with international standards, and help prevent New Zealand becoming a target for overseas money launderers and terrorist financers.

“This Government has a well-earned reputation of tackling corruption and rooting out criminal financing. We also have a proven record of growing the economy, creating jobs and bringing unemployment down. We can do both with our AML phase two reforms, but it will be critical to strike the right balance.”

It’s the Government’s intention to introduce the Bill early next year and have it passed by mid-2017.

The exposure draft of the Bill is available at www.justice.govt.nz/aml-cft