From the Chair

Suzanne Snively ONZM Chair Transparency International New Zealand

Suzanne Snively ONZM
Transparency International New Zealand

An important milestone for defending our New Zealand way of life from international criminals and scoundrels was 1 July 2018.

It was the date for the implementation for Anti-money Laundering (AML) requirements for some lawyers, all conveyancers and those businesses that provide services to help set up trusts and/or run trusts and companies. 

The other good July happening was that the group of public sector organisations that worked together on AML – the Department of Internal Affairs, Justice, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Financial Markets Authority, New Zealand Customs and Inland Revenue – won the award for their category,  Excellence in Regulatory Systems, at the IPANZ/Deloitte Public Sector Excellence Awards on 25 July.

From 1 August, AML provisions apply to businesses involved in sports and racing betting and those involved in trading in high value goods such as jewellery, precious metals, precious stones, watches, motor vehicles, boats, art or antiquities. Requirements for accountants take effect from 1 October and for real estate agents on 1 January 2019.

Transparency International NZ (TINZ) celebrates these important events as major steps towards strengthening integrity systems here and in the development of New Zealand as a good citizen.

However not everyone is happy, there are grumbles throughout New Zealand. Major concerns include:

 A well-intentioned launch by the Coalition Government’s Anti-Corruption Minister just skims the surface.  Lovely posters of the New Zealand landscape are reminders of what is at stake if steps fail to be taken to reduce the impact of massive offshore corruption. 

It is important too to specify the direct benefits to financial services, banks, law firms, high value goods businesses, conveyancers, accountants, real estate agents and sports and racing betting. They are:

  1. They will save huge costs in know your customer investigations as opportunities for money laundering will be contained and managed through New Zealand linking with international enforcers. 
  2. This improved security will attract and retain more customers, both from on shore and offshore.

Meanwhile, TINZ continues to promote public registers of all overseas beneficial owners. (see our August submission: Increasing the Transparency of the Beneficial Ownership.)  A public register of all owners will make it easier for law enforcement.  It will also reduce duplication of systems for collecting information about beneficial ownership, leading to reduced costs of duplication to businesses and other organisations as well as less cost to the taxpayer. 

As Ash Johnstone points out in his article in this newsletter, (Foreign Beneficial Owners need to be registered – New Zealanders already are!) New Zealand already has a central register of company details which is a publically accessible online for any person, organisation and for law enforcement anywhere in the world.

New Zealand’s register of its resident beneficial company owners is the only register in the world that can be easily searched with almost all of the company details online.

The key change needed now is that the same level of detail is collected about all overseas beneficial owners whether actually doing business in New Zealand or, and especially if, they are just trying to hide here.

Suzanne Snively, ONZM


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