The new world of AML in legal practice… and what this means for you
From 1 July 2018, Lawyers in New Zealand will be required to comply with the Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (“AML”). Whilst the Act is not new, (you will have come across it if you have opened new bank accounts recently), its application to Lawyers is. The purpose of the AML rules is to make money laundering harder for criminals, and to restrict funds flowing to terrorist organisations. Lawyers will not be the only ones affected by this, because AML will extend to Accountants, Real Estate Agents and more through 2018/2019.
Lawyers will be subject to AML because Lawyer’s Trust Accounts could otherwise be seen as an easy way to launder illicit monies, transferring money through the Trust Account to conceal its original illegal source. Lawyers will also have duties to report information about suspicious transactions which can help the Police to shut down criminal and terrorist funding.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOU AS OUR CLIENT?
AML requirements from 1 July 2018 require us to “know our customers” and to complete what is termed “Customer Due Diligence.” We will need to verify who you are before we take instructions from you, which means taking copies of your photo identification, and also a bank statement or other official document to verify your address. For Companies and Trusts this information will be required for the Directors, Shareholders, Settlors, Trustees, and Beneficiaries of those entities. In some situations we will even need to verify the source of the funds which are coming into our trust account.
RMF will be requesting the required information the next time we see you, where we don’t hold it already. Please be aware that if we cannot complete the “Customer Due Diligence” then we will be unable to act for you, so your co-operation with this is very important. Should you have any queries in relation to providing us this information, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss it with us.