New legislation for lawyers requires new ways of working

From 1 July 2018, lawyers will be subject to New Zealand’s anti-money laundering regime contained in the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (the Act).

Under the Act, we need to complete customer due diligence (CDD) or “know your customer” investigations on our clients. We have not needed to collect much of this information (other than in very specific circumstances) previously.

This will affect how we manage our initial matter engagements with you as we now need identity and address verification information about our clients and people connected to the instruction.

Our Customer Due Diligence Guide for Clients and forms will assist you in understanding the information we require and help you through our client on-boarding process.

Download guide

To further assist you to understand our requirements, some frequently asked questions about our obligations are below. However, if you have any questions about this guide, or the information required, please contact the Partner or staff member you regularly work with or our AML/CFT Compliance Officer by emailing aml.compliance@minterellison.co.nz.

Frequently asked questions

Why is this information required?

The Act has always been intended to apply to lawyers (and accountants).

Internationally, these professions have been identified as at risk of being targeted by money launders and terrorism financiers.

In New Zealand, the Shewan Report, released following the Panama Papers scandal has accelerated the timeline for this implementation.

Do lawyers elsewhere need to collect this information?

Lawyers in a few other jurisdictions, including in the UK, need to undertake CDD on their clients, but in most countries, including in Australia, they do not need to currently.

However, Australia is in the initial stages of extending its anti-money laundering regime to lawyers.

Is this information required for every client and every matter?

The Act requires us to collect CDD information when we undertake certain “designated activities” for our clients. Because these designated activities can arise during the course of many matters (and because we might not be able to continue with a matter until we have conducted CDD), where possible, we will collect the information at the start of each client relationship.

We might need to update the information we hold during the course of our relationship with you, but it is very unlikely that we will have to do this each time you instruct us.

What if I am a long-standing client of MinterEllisonRuddWatts?

Eventually, all of our clients (even our most long-standing) will go through our CDD process. Conducting CDD on our existing clients does not mean we have concerns about them from a money laundering or terrorism financing perspective, it simply reflects our new legal obligations.

What if MinterEllisonRuddWatts already holds this information?

Unfortunately, given the nature of the information we require it is very unlikely that we already hold it. However, our client onboarding process has been designed to make it as easy as possible to collect this information from you.

What will happen to the information MinterEllisonRuddWatts collects?

The information we collect through our CDD process will be held in accordance with our privacy policy.

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