New Zealand Law Society - AML/CFT inclusion for lawyers expedited

AML/CFT inclusion for lawyers expedited

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The Government has released its response to the Shewan inquiry into foreign trust disclosure rules, saying lawyers and accountants will be included in AML/CFT requirements "as soon as practicable".

The Government response says there are issues surrounding legal privilege and regime supervision that can only be dealt with through primary legislation and not regulation.

"Removal of the exclusion for lawyers and accountants will therefore be progresses as part of the more substantial AML/CFT reform programme underway," it says.

Revocation of the current exemption for lawyers and accountants will occur as part of the AML/CFT phase II reforms - as has been planned since 2013.

The response says legislation will be introduced later in 2016 and is expected to be passed in the first half of 2017.

Revenue Minister Michael Woodhouse has told TVNZ that issues such as legal privilege are behind the need to legislate rather than to introduce phase II by regulation.

The Government response indicates that it will be acting on all recommendations made by the inquiry. This includes changes to the rules regulating foreign trusts.

"The Shewan Inquiry's recommendations are sensible and well-reasoned and by acting on all of them, we will ensure that our foreign trust disclosure rules are strengthened and New Zealand's reputation is protected," Finance Minister Bill English says.

"The changes to the foreign trust rules are a matter that the Government intends to move quickly on."

He says the Government intends to introduce legislation to require a register that is searchable by the Department of Internal Affairs and the Police, with annual disclosure requirements.

Many of the trusts-related changes will be included in a tax bill, to be introduced to parliament in August 2016.

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