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Accountants, lawyers to join advisers in AML

Accountants and lawyers are likely to be swiftly pulled into the anti-money laundering loop - and ranked as a higher risk than financial advisers.

Thursday, May 12th 2016, 6:00AM 1 Comment

by Susan Edmunds

Gavin Austin

It was reported this week that the Government will accelerate the introduction of its plans to pull lawyers, accountants and real estate agents into the rules.

The move was prompted by the recent Panama Papers revelations, which highlighted concerns about New Zealand's foreign trust laws being misused by global players.

This country's AML laws were introduced in 2013. Many financial advisers were part of the first swathe of market participants caught.

It had originally been expected that lawyers and accountants would be required to become reporting entities in 2014, but that was delayed.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said yesterday it had begun initial work to consider more AML reforms, to enhance the existing obligations on lawyers and accountants.

At the moment they are required to verify identities, retain a record of documents associated with transactions of $10,000 or more, and report suspicious transactions.

"The New Zealand Police Financial Investigations Unit undertakes risk assessments relating to money laundering offences and the financing of terrorism," he said.

He said "professional gatekeepers", such as lawyers and accountants, were deemed a high risk under the National Risk Assessment.

Financial advisers are ranked medium/high and issues of securities low.

Compliance specialist Gavin Austin said he was not surprised the Government was moving on accountants and lawyers. He said the Panama Papers had put pressure on.

"Accountants and lawyers are part of the whole process. The question was whether the AML/CFT Act was going to be reviewed or whether they were going to push on with round two."

Accountants and lawyers have argued for more time, citing the increased compliance burden.

Tags: accountants AML

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Comments from our readers

On 13 May 2016 at 8:39 am AFA Muggins said:
Curious that lawyers and accountants who seems to be a higher risk than financial advisers (and pay higher PI premiums), consider they should have more time to become compliant. Seems they should have been first off the mark.

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