Anti money laundering reforms introduced

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A bill introduced to Parliament today will require real estate agents, lawyers and accountants to put in place systems which guard against money laundering. Photo / File

Real estate agents, lawyers and accountants will soon face tougher anti-money-laundering rules under a bill introduced to Parliament today.

The reforms will require companies to put in place systems which guard against money laundering and to carry out due diligence on customers, including identity verification.

A first tranche of reforms was passed in 2013 and covered banks, financial services and casinos.

The bill introduced today will extend anti money-laundering obligations to lawyers, conveyancers, accountants, real estate agents, the sports and betting industry, and businesses that deal in high value goods such as cars, jewellery or art.

The reforms were fast-tracked following the release of the Panama Papers last year, which raised concerns about the use of New Zealand's foreign trusts to hide money.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said the changes struck a balance between combating crime, minimising compliance costs and meeting international obligations.

The costs of meeting the new obligations were initially estimated at $1.6 billion over ten years, but Adams said this had now been halved after talks with the affected sectors.

"It is estimated that the reforms in this Bill could disrupt up to $1.7 billion in fraud and drug crime over the next 10 years," Adams said.

"Estimates also suggest they may prevent up to $5 billion in broader criminal activity and reduce about $800 million in social harm related to the illegal drug trade."

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