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Money laundering bill passes first reading

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/03/2017

Legislation extending the reach of anti-money laundering laws has passed its first reading in parliament.

Current legislation imposes legal obligations on banks, casinos, and a range of financial service providers who have to report large transactions.

The bill extends the regime to lawyers, conveyancers, accountants, estate agents, racing and sports betting agencies and businesses that handle high value goods.

"Money laundering is the lifeblood of many parts of crime," Justice Minister Amy Adams said when she launched the first reading debate on Thursday.

"By exploiting unsuspecting businesses and channelling money through different layers of the financial system, money laundering allows criminals to fund their lifestyles and fuels their criminal ventures.

"People who finance terrorism use similar measures to channel money to violent causes."

Ms Adams said existing laws covered high risk organisations, but criminals changed their techniques.

"Establishing controls in one sector often increases risks in others where there are fewer checks and balances," she said.

Ms Adams said compliance costs were initially estimated at $1.6 billion over 10 years but that had been lowered to between $800 million and $1.1b.

Businesses would be given time and provided with information to help them understand and prepare to meet their new obligations.

The bill passed its first reading unanimously and has been sent to a select committee for public submissions.

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