WHAT IS THE ACT?
From 1 July 2018, the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (“the Act”) comes into effect for all Lawyers. The purpose of the Act is to reflect New Zealand’s commitment to the international initiative to counter the impact of criminal activity within the global community. You can review the Act in full via the New Zealand Government’s legislation website.
HOW DOES THE ACT AFFECT LAWYERS?
The Act sets out numerous requirements for all New Zealand lawyers and law firms. Lawyers must now assess the level of risk they face when providing their services as these are attractive to those involved in criminal activity and provides a way to “legitimise” otherwise illegitimate transactions. The Act requires lawyers to assess risks and identify potentially suspicious activity or transactions.
To make the assessments required by the Act, lawyers must now obtain and verify relevant documents from all clients, whether they are prospective or long term clients. The requisite information covers a range of things and is part of what the Act refers to as “Customer Due Diligence”.
WHAT DOES QUEEN CITY LAW REQUIRE FOR CUSTOMER DUE DILIGENCE?
For Queen City Law to comply with the Act, we are required to undertake certain background checks on all of our clients before providing our services. The Act requires us to take “reasonable steps” to ensure that we “know our clients” and in order to comply, we are required to ask for and verify a range of documents from you.
At the most basic end of the Customer Due Diligence, the information that we will require to meet these legal requirements are:
• Your full name; and
• Your date of birth; and
• Your address.
To confirm that information, we will require you to provide us with documents such as your current and valid passport, birth certificate and documents proving your residential address such as a current bank statement or utility invoice no older than 3 months.
Additional information will be required if you are a company or trust entity as we are required to obtain and verify information on all people associated with those entities (such as directors, shareholders, trustees and beneficiaries). We may also need to ask, depending on the services involved, about the nature and purpose of a proposed service, information confirming the source of funds, and information confirming the source of wealth. Your lawyer will go over what information is required from you when it becomes applicable in order for us to meet our legal requirements.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE REQUIRED INFORMATION IS NOT PROVIDED?
As the Act applies to everyone, if you are unable to provide Queen City Law with the required information and documents, we will not be able to act for you. Before engagement, Queen City Law will inform you of the information and documents required. It is in your best interest that all the information and documents required are provided to Queen City Law in a timely matter as any delay will affect our services and our fee for those services.
Please read our updated Client Care Information here.