New Zealand Law Society - AML/CFT developments expected for virtual asset service providers

AML/CFT developments expected for virtual asset service providers

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The global Financial Action Taskforce is due to finalise detailed AML/CFT requirements for virtual asset service providers (VASP) and their AML/CFT supervisors in June 2019.

The Department of Internal Affairs says virtual asset service providers (VASPs) are evolving at a rapid pace and are creating new opportunities for criminals to launder their proceeds or finance their illegal activities or fund terrorism.

It says it is the lead Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 contact for virtual asset service providers. Financial services provided by VASPs fall within the existing definition of a "financial institution" in the Act.

The department says a virtual asset is a digital representation of value that can be digitally traded or transferred, and can be use for payment or investment purposes. One example is Bitcoin, which is a virtual currency.

"In October 2018, the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) set out global expectations and definitions of virtual assets on these types of services, expanding them from covering only virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, to include those that are virtual wallet exchanges, virtual asset brokers or offer initial coin offerings.  

"As announced in February 2019, FATF is currently setting out more detailed requirements for VASPs and their AML/CFT supervisors. This expanded definition and the detailed guidance will help prevent money laundering and financing of terrorism and are due to be finalised in June 2019."

The Department of Internal Affairs says VASPs have AML/CFT responsibilities.