Why We Need to Ask for Information

From 1 October all accountants will come under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009. This is New Zealand’s part of an international initiative to combat money laundering and terrorism funding.  Money laundering is the method by which people disguise and conceal the proceeds of crime.  Financiers of terrorism use similar techniques to avoid detection by authorities and to protect the identity of those providing and receiving the funds.

Both domestic and international evidence suggests that using professionals (such as accountants) is a way for criminals to create a false perception of legitimately acquired wealth.  Accountants now must assess the risk they face from the actions of money launderers and to identify potentially suspicious activity.

What this Means for You

Accountants must now assess clients for money-laundering risk before doing certain jobs for them. This means that when you want us to undertake certain transactions (like setting up a company or transferring funds at the IRD), or if we have a higher level of involvement in your business (like operating a bank account on your behalf or being a trustee), then we will likely have to do some identification and other checks on you.  We may also have to take steps to ensure that the information that you provide is correct.

Even though we may have had a long-standing professional relationship with you as your accountant, the law may require that we get this information from you in the near future.  If we are not able to obtain the required information from you, it is likely that we will not be able to do the work for you.  We may be comfortable that you have no involvement in money laundering, but we are breaking the law if we act before we have your documents to support our position.

Information We Need

To make our assessment we have to obtain and verify information from you to meet our legal requirements.  We will need to ask you about the nature and purpose of the proposed work you are asking us to do for you.  We will also need documents such as your passport or driver’s licence, along with documents that show your address, such as a current bank statement.

In certain circumstances we may also need to ask you for further details such as information confirming the source of funds for a transaction.

Please bear with us if we have to work through these requirements with you.  The sooner we can get it done, the less painful it will be.