An Introduction to AML

Money Laundering: the words conjure images of drug dealing, gun running and corrupt government officials taking bribes.

Anti-money laundering

(AML) legislation is about preventing criminals from cleaning up their ill-gotten money using legitimate assets and the banking system.

The reality of AML is forms and paper – proving who you are and where your money came from.

You will be asked for records going back in time to when you didn’t even own a computer. We Kiwis have always congratulated ourselves on not being as bureaucratic as other countries. Unfortunately, the world as we know it is changing and NZ is part of that change.

What is AML?

To comply with its international treaty obligations, the NZ Government has passed laws designed to identify and prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism. This legislation is called the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009.

To comply with the Act, from 1 July 2018, all lawyers are required to ask for information from clients before starting work.

AML already applies to NZ banks, financial institutions and casinos. Now, businesses such as law firms and accountants are also required to put preventative measures in place to detect and deter money laundering and terrorism financing. Soon it will affect real estate agents and NZ betting services.

What this means for you:

You will experience more stringent identity checks, and may be required to verify your identity by providing copies of documents such as utilities bills, passports, birth certificates, pay slips or copies of old trust transactional documents. We will usually ask you to provide us with the original documents or certified original documents. They cannot be emailed or scanned copies.
We understand the disruption and frustration this process may cause, and will do our best to mitigate the negative effect on you. Once we have completed the initial ‘onboarding’ process future services will be much easier. Please don’t take it personally – we are required to ask all clients the same questions and for the same documents even if we have no concerns about AML compliance.

What happens to my information?

We retain all personal information on file, and may provide it to the Department of Internal Affairs or as otherwise if directed by the Ministry of Justice. The New Zealand Police Financial Intelligence Unit collates and analyses information relating to suspicious transactional reporting.

Think of it as saving the world. By paper.