Lawyers require more client information under new Anti Money Laundering laws

Changes to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML Act) come into force on 1 July 2018.  The changes have been put in place to better protect New Zealand against criminal activity and enhance our international reputation as a safe place to do business.

Due diligence

These changes mean that Lane Neave and all other law firms in New Zealand must undertake a higher level of due diligence with clients, including accessing specific identification in a wider range of circumstances than we do currently, verifying the source of funds and reporting suspicious transactions.

In a nutshell, Lane Neave is required to make certain background checks before providing legal service. We must take reasonable steps to make sure the information we receive from our clients is correct, and so need to ask for documents that prove this.

Information we need to obtain and verify includes:

  • Your full name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your address

To verify the information is correct we will need to see documents such as your passport, driver’s licence or your birth certificate, and documents that show your address, such as a current bank statement or utility bill.

If you are planning to engage with us about corporate business or a trust business, we will need information about the company or trust including directors and shareholders, trustees and beneficiaries.

In some cases we may also need to ask you for addition information and ask you about the nature and purpose of the proposed work you are asking us to undertake for you.  It is also a legal requirement for us to confirm the source of funds in a transaction.

What if you can’t provide the information required under the AML/CFT Act?

If you can’t provide us with the information required to complete due diligence we won’t be able to represent you.  The law is very strict and applies to every individual and company who engages a law firm in New Zealand.   This is also the case if you’ve been a longstanding client of ours.

We’ll make is as easy as possible and let you know what information we require before we start working with you.

Lane Neave also has a compliance officer on staff who oversees our AML/CFT programme, including staff training.  We are also committed to regularly undertaking assessment of risks and reporting concerns to the necessary authorities.

Don’t hesitate to contact one of our team if you have any queries or concerns.