Money-laundering active in New Zealand

The country faces real terrorist risks too

Venkat Raman

Money-laundering is active in New Zealand and more than $135 billion is generated through the domestic criminal proceeds every year, the National Risk Assessment Report has said.

The New Zealand Police Financial Intelligent Unit (FIU), which released the Report said that the updated assessment indicated existence of real money-laundering and terrorism risks.

Crime flourishes

FIU Manager Andrew Hill said that New Zealand is not immune to these criminals and that despite being a safe country, crime flourishes through money laundering and terrorism financing and harm communities.

“Overseas criminals seeking to mask their illicit funds are also attracted by New Zealand’s reputation as a safe and non-corrupt country,” he said.

This Report describes the vulnerabilities of the New Zealand financial system to money laundering and terrorism financing and provides an awareness to more successfully prevent and detect illicit financial activity.

Anonymity of offenders

The channels that currently offer opportunities to money launderers in New Zealand are financial, legal, accounting, real estate, and retail or dealer services that keep offenders anonymous.

These channels, used for moving large values and volumes of legitimate funds and which provide a screen for illicit transactions are widely available internationally and also have poor AML/CFT controls internationally, and /or are cash intensive.

These are used to disguise drugs proceeds.

Mr Hill said that the FIU Report highlights the high potential economic and reputational cost associated with money laundering and financing of terrorism.

Transparency imperative

Transparency International New Zealand Chair Suzanne Snively said that this Report further supports the need for complete transparency of ownership of New Zealand companies and trusts. We know of trusts set up In New Zealand used as instruments of crime for corrupt people and regimes overseas. This may well include terrorists,” she said.

New Zealand not immune

Ms Snively said that New Zealand should not consider itself immune from being used by organisations like ISAL.

“Opacity of ownership under current law encourages these activities and obscures our ability to prevent them,” she said.

While the new requirement under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Act to be implemented in July will further assist the prevention of money laundering for terrorist and other criminal purposes, financial transactions are not the only identifier of criminal intent.

“The Government should pass with urgency the bill that will identify beneficial ownership of trusts followed quickly with an amendment to cover all legal entities used by overseas sources and with the register fully transparent,” Ms Snively said.

Read our Leader, “The menace of Money Laundering must be stopped’ under Viewlink.

Photo Caption: Suzanne Snively (File Photo)

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