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NZ banks join forces against money laundering

NZ banks join forces against money laundering

(09 January 2013 – New Zealand) New Zealand Bankers’ Association (NZBA) chief executive Kirk Hope said the country’s banks are joining financial institutions around the globe to help reduce money laundering. Hope wrote an article saying from June all banks in New Zealand would need to do more to check customer identity and sometimes account activity.

"It helps to support our financial reputation overseas, protect us from financial crime and meet our international obligations to fight money laundering," Hope said.

Money laundering describes the process by which 'dirty' money obtained from criminal activities is made to look legitimate or 'clean'. It covers a range of methods and levels of sophistication.

Crimes including drug trafficking, terrorism, fraud, robbery, illegal prostitution and gambling, arms trafficking, bribery and corruption drive money laundering activity.

"We all have a role to play in this. Tackling money laundering involves the Government, all financial institutions and their customers," he said.

The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act was passed in 2009. The new anti-money laundering regime comes fully into effect on 30 June 2013.

The act is intended to help detect and deter money laundering and terrorist financing. It will contribute to public confidence in the New Zealand financial system and bring New Zealand into line with international standards.

The new regime applies to all New Zealand banks and other financial institutions and builds on existing customer identification processes.

Under the new law all banks will need to collect specific information from customers to verify their identity and address. The same goes for those acting on behalf of customers. More information may be required from customers than at present. For example, businesses may need to provide specific information about their owners.

From time to time banks will need to ask existing customers if information held is still up to date.

The changes will be most apparent when opening bank accounts.

Customers will be asked for more information when, for example, wanting to give someone else signing authority on an account; when they deposit cash over the threshold into another customer's account; or when a non-customer deposits cash over the threshold into an account.
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