AML (Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009, to be precise) came into force for lawyers on 1 July 2018.
AML has been in place in New Zealand since 2013 and in addition to applying to your relationship with us from 1 July, will apply to your relationship with your accountant from 1 October 2018 and any Real Estate Agent you deal with after 1 January 2019.
Why this, why now?
AML is a global initiative with responsible countries agreeing to adopt AML systems that include practical measures to make it harder for criminals to profit from and fund illegal activity; and to restrict the flow of money to terrorist organisations.
In implementing AML, we are doing our bit to safeguard and help New Zealand live up to its reputation as one of the least corrupt countries in the world and a good place to do business.
What this means for you as our client.
The law requires all law firms to collect and verify information to show that they know their client is who they say they are. This changes to the way we accept instructions from new clients and how we deal with existing clients going forward.
AML includes a set of rules that prescribe what we must do to complete 'customer due diligence' (CDD). This includes collecting specific information from you, holding proof of ID and verification of your physical address. In certain circumstances we will also be required to obtain evidence of your source of wealth or the source of funds used to settle a transaction. In addition, we are required to report certain international funds transfers and suspicious activity.
These rules also apply to all transactions where money is received into our trust account.
In summary, we are now required to collect and verify the same information as banks and other financial institutions have done since 2013.
If you are a new client to the Firm, we will be required to complete customer due diligence (CDD) to the level required by AML before we can act for you on certain types of transactions. This will become part of our new client onboarding process and you will see us additional questions when you give us instructions. You will also be asked to provide identity and address verification.
If you are an existing client, there is nothing you need to do immediately. Whilst we may know a lot about you already, we will at some stage, need to bring your file up to date for AML purposes. This may be when you next instruct us or if you have regular dealing with us or when we review your file. In either case we will let you know what is required based on the information we already hold.
Our team will try and make this as easy for you as we can. However, we will need your co-operation and timely response to any request for information.
It is important to understand that under AML, circumstances may arise where we will be unable to continue to work with you if we cannot complete our required CDD.
For more information about AML please read our FAQs.