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National AML/CFT Strategy released

11 December 2019

The Ministry of Justice says it has proactively released New Zealand's first National Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Strategy.

The Strategy is contained in a Cabinet Paper which is entitled Setting the strategic direction for New Zealand's Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Regime. This was considered by the Cabinet on 21 October 2019.

The announcement that there is a Strategy appears to be part of a move to prepare for an upcoming Financial Action Task Force evaluation of New Zealand's compliance with AML/CFT technical recommendations.

The ministry says the National Strategy will coordinate efforts across government and the private sector and guide prioritisation of work to improve the system.

The Cabinet Paper says New Zealand is a member of the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It says as part of FATF membership, all member states are periodically evaluated for compliance with FATF technical recommendations. New Zealand's last Mutual Evaluation was in 2009, and the Paper says New Zealand was found to be deficient in some areas with many being addressed through passage of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009.

FATF assessors are expected to conduct an onsite visit in March 2020.

Criticism possible

The Cabinet Paper says there are some features of New Zealand's AML/CFT system that may attract FATF criticism "and media attention when the FATF report on the outcomes of New Zealand's Mutual Evaluation are made public in Februry 2021".

After a paragraph which has been suppressed under section 9(2)(g)(i) of the Official Information Act 1982, the Paper says the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is currently leading work on requiring New Zealand incorporated companies and limited partnerships to disclose their beneficial ownership information. These are being considered in a separate Cabinet Paper and if approved, it says the changes will demonstrate to FATF that New Zealand is undertaking legislative reform to address issues to one of the required outcomes.

The Cabinet Paper says there are several other features of New Zealand's AML/CFT regime that may attract comment from the FATF. The Appendix which outlines these is suppressed under section 9(2)(g)(i).

Last updated on the 11th December 2019