New Zealand Law Society - What are your party’s views on the extension of the anti-money laundering legislation (AML/CFT Act 2009) to lawyers and other professions, and the timeframe it is being worked in?

What are your party’s views on the extension of the anti-money laundering legislation (AML/CFT Act 2009) to lawyers and other professions, and the timeframe it is being worked in?

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The Opportunities Party

The Opportunities Party is all about fairness and evidence-based policy. We are a new party and have not completed sufficient research on the extension of the anti-money laundering legislation to lawyers and other professions to have assessed the evidence on this complex topic. Therefore, at present The Opportunities Party has no views on proposed anti-money laundering legislation. If we are in power and the issue arises we will review the evidence, and come to a position.

National Party

The extension of anti-money laundering legislation is necessary in order to protect New Zealand businesses and our reputation as being a good country to do business. It strikes the right balance between combating crime, minimising the cost of compliance and meeting international obligations. Businesses will have a period of time to prepare for the changes. The Government will provide guidance and information to help them understand, prepare for and comply with the law.

Democrats for Social Credit

We agree with the extension of the legislation to lawyers and other professions, but do share the concerns of the Law Society about the timeframe being set for the legal profession to comply. In our view, legal firms are much more likely to have systems and expertise to implement the requirements than, for example, real estate agents. We see the timeframe being applied to an accounting practice (not later than 1 October 2018) as not unreasonable for legal firms.

Green Party

The Green Party played a key role in exposing the shady way New Zealand foreign trusts were being used to facilitate money laundering and crime overseas.

We have also been critical of the National Government’s lack of action on money laundering of many years. The OECD’s Financial Action Task Force was critical of delays which resulted in New Zealand being struck off the ‘White List’ list of non-corrupt countries by the EU in 2010 – adding to the cost of doing business there for New Zealand companies.

We have also been critical of the delays in bringing the second phase of anti-money laundering legislation into Parliament. We are calling for early passage of the legislation, but recognise that there needs to be adequate time for the legal profession, accountants and others subject to the legislation to be able to have advance notice of the regulations, so they can undertake the training and development of systems required for implementation.

Labour Party

Labour has supported the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Amendment Bill which recently passed its third reading. We believe it is important, as the Ministry of Justice advised, for professional services such as lawyers and accountants to be a part of anti-money laundering legislation.

We recognise that submitters, including many from the legal area, had concerns about the timeframe they had to comply with the legislation and this was something discussed at length at select committee.

Conservative Party

We have no particular view on this matter.

NZ People’s Party

We are fully supportive of efforts to strengthen the AML/CFT Act.

Internet Party

The concept is appropriate and we understand the fundamental aim behind extending this legislation to tighten the grip on money laundering and reducing the amount of loopholes the real perpetrators can get through. However, ultimately we do not support the current state of the Act as a whole. Its purpose is sound but it has been proven to be misused against journalists and other dissenters rather than against money launderers. This means that the wording of the law is tailored in a way that allows corrupted officials to press against these journalists using the exact wording of the Act in question. It is important when developing acts that the line between theory and reality is made clear and in the reality we are in, protections should be extended to journalists that are simply reporting the facts not being directly abused by this Act. In theory a continued extension sounds great to stop money laundering from lawyers and certain other professions but take care in the development not to expose more loopholes for wrongdoers on all sides to exploit in this.

ACT Party

We are satisfied with the current government settings and targets.

NZ First

Broadly supportive. No comments on timeframe.

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party

Money laundering and corruption undermine civil society, breaks down trust and increases tax for those at the bottom. The sooner this can be addressed the better.

Māori Party

The Māori Party supports the extension to lawyers and other professions although we acknowledge the special nature of the lawyer-client relationship and the tension between client confidentiality and the sanctity of privileged discussions with the need to file suspicious transaction reports. The Māori Party supported clarity to the law profession to enable them to develop compliant practices that also met their ethical obligations to their clients.

We did note that the bill proceeded with a shortened opportunity for input and public consultation which would not have been useful for everyone. We also noted the proposed timing of implementation for the three groups of professions – and supported a date that would capture all three professions at the same time.

United Future

We supported the amended legislation in parliament, we want to see it enacted as soon as possible.

NZ Outdoors Party

In response to every question we would say we have no experience in these areas and would look to organisations like yours for expert advice should it be needed. We just don’t want to have policy for policy sake not really knowing what the issues are. We do believe in the rule of law and have been most disappointed by the Government’s suggestions of legislating to negate the Ruataniwha Dam High Court decision. The Outdoors Party will be standing a number of candidates and contesting the party vote emphasising our experience and knowledge of the environment.