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New money-laundering laws introduced

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/03/2017

New legislation further targeting money launderers and terrorist financiers has been introduced to parliament.

Justice Minister Amy Adams on Monday introduced the legislation, set to bolster the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act, introduced in 2009.

Extensions to cover lawyers, conveyancers, accountants, real estate agents, and sports and racing betting were fast-tracked last year.

It follows last year's release of the Panama Papers and the Shewan Inquiry into New Zealand's foreign trust regimes, with allegations trusts were being used to launder money.

"Money laundering allows criminals to fund their lifestyle and it fuels re-investment in criminal ventures," Ms Adams said on Monday.

Prime Minister Bill English said the increased cost on those industries affected by the amendments were inherent in having a strong anti-money laundering regime.

"If there are people using the property industry as a way of laundering money then this legislation will have, I would say, quite a significant impact on that," he said.

"Part of the work that's being done and the scrutiny ahead is to make sure it's not too expensive."

As well as widening the professions covered by the legislation, the government's amendment also seeks to target businesses dealing in high-value goods.

Ms Adams said vehicles, jewellery and art dealers would have legal obligations when accepting or making large cash transactions as a result of the proposed changes.

The government anticipates the bill's reforms could disrupt up to $1.7 billion in fraud and drug crimes over the next decade.

"Estimates also suggest they may prevent up to $5 billion in broader criminal activity and reduce about $800 million in social harm related to the illegal drug trade," Ms Adams said.

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