NZ to hasten completion of anti-money laundering regime: Key

The furore over the Panama Papers is hastening completion of New Zealand's anti-money laundering regime, with lawyers and other professionals to be targeted.

Prime Minister John Key told his post-Cabinet press conference that a remaining chunk of legislation to complete the country's AML obligations will be hurried through.

"There's no question that's as a result of the debate around the Panama Papers and wider global debate," Key said, following reports by Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand linking Auckland law firm Cone Marshall to an exiled former prime minister of Kazakhstan, Akezhan Kazhegeldin, whose up-market London abode was owned by his daughter's company Zarek Investments. Zarek was registered through the British Virgin Islands tax haven and administered by Cone Marshall.

BusinessDesk reported last July that the government was looking to extend the AML regime to professionals including lawyers and accountants as the number of suspicious transactions reported to law enforcement agencies has more than tripled since the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act came into effect in mid-2013.

A second tranche of legislative reform would extend anti-money laundering requirements to professions and businesses dealing in high-value goods, such as lawyers, accountants, conveyancing practitioners and real estate agents, Justice Minister Amy Adams told last year's Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering annual meeting in Auckland.

"These are currently covered under the Financial Transactions Reporting Act, but a next stage would see them subject to the more robust AML obligations under the AML/CFT " she said. "You can expect more of an update on this work as it progresses."

Key said today that "to cover all other kinds of entities, then we need to do part two."

"We are trying to push that through as quickly as we practically can."

(BusinessDesk)

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