Early reports from a meeting of the global money laundering watchdog provide important insights as to how anti-money laundering regulation is likely to evolve in New Zealand.
Delegates representing the 205 members of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) global network met at a virtual plenary meeting on 22, 24 and 25 February 2021. The plenary included discussion of the recent "Mutual Evaluation" of New Zealand's measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. Broadly speaking, New Zealand's measures to combat money laundering appear to have received praise as delivering good results.
Areas of strength
The plenary noted the following areas of strength for New Zealand:
Understanding of the risks New Zealand faces.
Results in investigations and prosecutions and use of financial intelligence.
Confiscation of criminal proceeds.
Areas for improvement
The plenary noted areas for improvement, and in particular, New Zealand needs to focus more on:
Improving the availability of beneficial ownership information (part of a broader theme at the plenary).
Implementation of targeted financial sanctions.
These will be influential both in the upcoming review of New Zealand's anti-money laundering legislation (which is to occur no later than July 2021), as well as the approach of regulatory agencies to supervision and enforcement.
Separately to the discussion of New Zealand's mutual evaluation, delegates reportedly explored potential amendments to further strengthen the FATF requirements on beneficial ownership, given that criminals are still able to hide their illicit assets behind anonymous or complex legal structures.
Further information will be available with the publication of FATF's full report of New Zealand's mutual evaluation, expected in April. Further information on the plenary is available here.
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