Govt cracks down on misuse of NZ companies

Commerce and Consumer Affairs

A Bill to crackdown on global and domestic criminals who use businesses to hide money laundering, tax evasion and the financing of terrorism will be introduced this year, the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, David Clark said today.

It will include changes to the rules around beneficial owners to make it easier to see who owns or controls a company.

“The changes we’re making sit in line with the Government’s National Security Priorities to help identify threats, risks, and challenges to New Zealand’s security and wellbeing. It will also help to bring us in line with other jurisdictions,” David Clark said.

“The changes Cabinet has agreed to strike a balance between maintaining the ease of doing business, and protecting New Zealanders from illegal activities.”

“It’s quick and simple to establish a company or a limited partnership in New Zealand, which is great for doing business, but it also opens the door for criminals to take advantage.

“The Pandora and Panama papers highlighted some key vulnerabilities which need to be addressed. Frankly, New Zealanders deserve to know who they’re doing business with.

“When searching the Companies Register, it can be difficult to see the complete picture of a company’s ownership structure. The new measures will make it a requirement to provide accurate information about who the ‘beneficial owner’ is.

A unique identifier number, or serial number, will also be assigned to all beneficial owners, directors and general partners of limited partnerships. It will mean the Companies Office will be able to confidently link individuals with all entities they are associated with, and this will be publicly available.

An additional benefit of these changes is that the residential addresses of company directors will no longer need to be made publicly available on the Companies Office website.

“I know that many directors have expressed concern about their home address being visible to all. Under the proposed changes, directors can apply to have a service address displayed on the Companies Register instead of their residential address,” David Clark said.

A Bill containing the proposed legislation will be introduced in late 2022, following a consultation with industry stakeholders and the public.

More information can be found on MBIE’s website.