Cracking down on money laundering to combat serious crime

Cracking down on money laundering is part of a global response to serious crime and terrorism. New Zealand banks are playing their part by implementing a new law which comes into force on 30 June 2013.

Under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 all New Zealand banks have additional obligations to check customer identity and, in some cases, account activity.

This will contribute to public confidence in the New Zealand financial system and bring New Zealand into line with international best practice. The enhanced regime applies to all banks, and other financial institutions, and builds on existing customer identification processes.

Money laundering is the process of disguising the illegal origin of criminal profits. A number of serious crimes drive money laundering globally. These include drug trafficking, fraud, robbery, illegal prostitution and gambling, arms trafficking, bribery and corruption. Combating money laundering makes it harder for criminals to profit from these activities.

Terrorist groups also launder money to hide the origin and purpose of their funds.

“The recently foiled terrorist plot in Toronto is an example of the kind of activity that the law is targeting,” said New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Kirk Hope.

“We all have a role to play in the new anti-money laundering regime. Banks will be asking customers to provide more information about themselves. It’s important to bear in mind the bigger picture here. This is about New Zealand’s international reputation and fighting very serious crime.”

All banks are required to comply with the new law by 30 June 2013. Some banks are implementing the changes earlier to help ensure a smooth transition to the new requirements.