The sale and purchase of property usually involves transacting a significant sum of money. From July this year, all law firms will be required to comply with anti-money laundering legislation. Here is what that means for you.
The goal is to keep New Zealand safe from money launderers. Our country has a strong reputation for being safe and having little corruption. As an export nation, it’s important we maintain this reputation. Other countries need to be confident doing business with us, and we need to know we’re receiving money that isn’t crime related.
Banks have been complying with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML) since 2013. Lawyers are now required to be part of the process, preventing crime and the transfer of proceeds resulting from criminal activity. In short, if you need our services, we will be asking you for additional information.
Verifying your identity
As part of our AML due diligence, from 1 July we are required to verify the identity of all our clients to legitimise your transactions. A driver license won’t be sufficient. We’ll need additional documents to verify your identity such as a passport or birth certificate. Well also need a current bank statement or council rates invoice to verify your full name and address.
In some situations, we will be required to ask you about the nature and purpose of the work you need us to do. We may also need to confirm the source of funds for a transaction. You can see how this will have clear implications for the conveyancing of property.
The extent of our compliance
There are no exceptions to this law. It applies to everyone and each and every transaction where money goes from or to a trust account. We’re required to check every new matter.
We’re also required to file regular reports with the appropriate authorities detailing these transactions and alerting them to any suspicious activity. Once we familiarise ourselves with these new requirements, we don’t expect them to cause you any inconvenience, but for the sake of transparency, we wanted you to understand why we’ll be asking you for more information.