Anti-Money Laundering

Why we need to ask you for information

New Zealand has passed a law called the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 ("AML/CFT law" for short).  The purpose of 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.

Recent changes to the AML/CFT Act mean that from 1 July 2018 lawyers must comply with its requirements.  lawyers must do a number of things to help combat money laundering and terrorist financing and to help Police bring the criminals who do it to justice.  The AML/CFT law does this because the services law firms and other professionals offer may be attractive to those involved in criminal activity.

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 must identify potentially suspicious activity.

To make that assessment, lawyers must obtain and verify information from prospective and existing clients about a range of things.  This is what the AML/CFT law calls "client due diligence".

Client Due Diligence Requirements

Client due diligence requires a law firm to undertake certain background checks before providing services to clients or customers.  Lawyers must take reasonable steps to make sure the information they receive from clients is correct, and so they need to ask for documents that show this.

We will need to obtain and verify certain information from you to meet these legal requirements.  This information includes:

  • your full name; and
  • your date of birth; and
  • your address

To confirm these details, documents such as your passport or birth certificate and drivers licence, and documents that show your address - such as a utility invoice or 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 of a company, and the settlor, trustees and beneficiaries of a trust).

We may need to ask you about the nature and purpose of the transaction of the proposed work you are asking us to do for you.  Information confirming the source of wealth and source of income for a client may also be requested where enhanced due diligence is required to be carried out.

If you cannot provide the required information

If we are not able to obtain the required information from you, it is likely we will not be able to act for you.  Because the law applies to everyone, we need to ask you for the information even if you have been a client of ours for a long time.

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.

Please contact us if you have any queries or concerns.

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