Published on: 2018-10-17

Anti-Money Laundering; From January 1 2019 we will be asking clients for more information

Anti-Money Laundering; From January 1 2019 we will be asking clients for more information

New Zealand is currently regarded as one of the safest and least corrupt countries in the world.  To maintain New Zealand’s position the government introduced the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML for short).

This will also help other countries transact with NZ firms confidently, knowing that money sent into or out of NZ is not tainted by the proceeds of crime.  Banks have been complying with the AML legislation since 2013, lawyers since June 2018 and now real estate agents must comply.

The AML requires all real estate agents from January 1 2019 to take steps to assess the risk faced from the actions of money launderers, from people who finance terrorism, and any suspicious activity carried out by those dealing with real estate firms.

To comply real estate agents from January 1 must verify the identity of all of vendor clients to help ensure all transactions are legitimate.  This is called “customer due diligence”. It means agents will start asking vendors for personal information that has not been necessary in the past.

The information required includes a vendor’s full name, date of birth, and address.  For proof a vendor will be asked for documents such as a passport or a driver’s licence or birth certificate as well as documents that show a vendor's residential address, such as a current bank statement or rates demand.

There are no exemptions from the AML laws. Trusts and companies are caught by the AML provisions which means your real estate agent will ask for a copy of your trust deed and will need to identify all trustees. Even if you have been a regular client of the agent or salesperson you will need to provide this information. The information also needs to be updated from time to time.