New Zealand’s Justice Minister Judith Collins has endorsed an anti-corruption bill to deter domestic and international organized crime that would require banks to report international wire transfers of more than $1,000.
The New Zealand Bankers’ Association has expressed its support for the bill, saying it can help maintain New Zealand’s reputation overseas, the International Business Times-Australia (IBT) reported last Thursday.
Collins’ Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Legislation Bill would force banks to report both wire transfers exceeding $1,000 and physical transactions of $10,000 or more to the financial intelligence unit of the police.
Bank Association Chief Executive Kirk Hope said organized crime is “not a major issue” in New Zealand, but he agrees that such crime needs a global response, IBT reported.
Hope said bank customers will not mind the sharing of information, since they are already used to banks collecting customer data, and that the banking sector will help the government see through the passage of the bill.
Along with targeting organized crime, the bill will also make it unlawful to sell or pass on identity information. It will also increase the penalties for corruption and bribery, and strengthen human trafficking laws in New Zealand.
In addition, the anti-corruption bill will amend the Policing Act 2008 to provide authorities with the power to share information with international counterparts.
According to Collins, her bill will give New Zealand authorities “sharper teeth.”
Referring to Transparency International’s annual rankings of corruption in countries around the globe, she said New Zealand is regarded as one of the least corrupt nations in the world, but it can’t allow itself to get too complacent.
Reports said the anti-corruption bill will not be passed before the election, IBT reported.
Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Blog and can be reached here.
Past FAFT AML/CTF evaluations of New Zealand have noted that there is a high degree of sophistication to money laundering in the jurisdisciton and the financial system; FX dealers, professional services, DNFBPs etc are particular areas of risk. More recent amendments to New Zealand's Corporations Act, appear to have strengthened protections against previously opaque business and corporate structures, such as the "Limited Overseas Partnership" – hopefully strengthened the continued scrutiny of non-legitimate business vehicles are in my mind are far more relevant to anti-corruption measures.
I see that whilst the Bill does take several steps towards addressing shortcomings and incrementally brings New Zealand into line with OECD Anti-Bribery Convention recommendations, unfortunately (like Australia) it appears that facilitation / grease payments to overseas officials will remain as an exception or a defence to foreign bribery. It is good to see that tax deductions for past bribes will no longer be allowed and companies will need to record what facilitation payments they are making – again these seem to appear as amendments to the Corporations Act as opposed to being actual components of the Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Bill.
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