New Zealand's lawyers are being encouraged to start looking at what they need to do to implement the requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 when members of the legal profession become "reporting entities" under the Act from 1 July 2018.
The New Zealand Law Society's Vice President (South Island) Andrew Logan says while there is no need for lawyers to panic, they should begin preparing for implementation now, or very soon.
Writing in the latest issue of the Law Society magazine LawTalk, Mr Logan says the Law Society has released a Practice Briefing Preparing for becoming a reporting entity under the AML/CFT Act, and he recommends that lawyers download and study it if they haven't done so already.
"Lawyers have watched and waited during the at-times confusing melee on when they will be included and who will regulate them as reporting entities. Things are now clearer and it is evident that all lawyers will have to ensure they understand the requirements before implementation," he says.
Mr Logan says there are three things that lawyers can begin working on now. He says each of these will need to be completed by the date lawyers becomg reporting entities - currently 1 July 2018.
Appoint an AML/CFT compliance officer: This is the easiest step, Mr Logan says, "and the appointed compliance officer can warm up, so to speak, by leading implementation of the other two tasks and be delegated to keep a watching brief on AML developments and the legislation as it unfolds.
Produce a written risk assessment: Section 56 of the Act says that a reporting entity must undertake an assessment of the risk of money laundering and the financing of terrorism that it may reasonably expect to face in the course of its business.
Establish a written AML/CFT programme: Mr Logan says developing this will take some time and effort "and it will need to be up-and-running by the date lawyers become reporting entities under the AML/CFT Act.
He says that starting on these three tasks now or very soon will mean that law firms spread the work over coming months.
Mr Logan says the New Zealand Law Society will help the legal profession as much as it can with information, seminars and other resources.
"Our first 'helpful hint' is this: it's time to get started."