New Zealand has passed a law called the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML/CFT law) and this came into effect for lawyers on 1 July 2018. The law reflects New Zealand’s commitment to the international initiative to counter the impact that criminal activity has on people and economies within the global community.
The law says that law firms and other professionals must assess the risk they may face from the actions of money launderers and people who finance terrorism and to identify potentially suspicious activity.
To make this assessment, lawyers must obtain and verify information from all prospective and existing clients about a range of things. This is part of what the AML/CFT law calls “customer due diligence” (‘CDD’).
Law firms are now required to undertake certain background checks before providing services to clients. Lawyers must take reasonable steps to make sure the information they receive from clients is correct, so they need to ask for documentation to verify the information that they receive from clients.
We will need to obtain and verify certain information from you to meet these legal requirements. This information will include (at the very least):
- your full name;
your date of birth;
your address; and
Confirmation that you are not a "politically exposed person" or related to one.
To confirm these details, documents such as your passport, driver’s licence or your birth certificate, and documents that show your address, such as a current bank statement, will be required.
If you are seeing us about company or trust business, we will need information about the company or trust including the people associated with it (such as directors and shareholders, trustees and beneficiaries and people/ entities who have settled or advanced funds to your trust).
We may also need to ask you for further information. We will need to ask you about the nature and purpose of the proposed work you are asking us to do for you. Information confirming the source of funds for a transaction or for your Trust may also be necessary to meet the legal requirements.
If we are not able to obtain the required information from you, it is likely we will not be able to act for you.
Before we start working for you, we will let you know what information we need, and what documents you need to show us and let us photocopy and then retain in our electronic records.
Please contact the lawyer who will be undertaking your work if you have any queries or concerns.