Report highlights New Zealand's effectiveness in combating criminal business and finance terrorism

New Zealand’s head of delegation to the Financial Action Taskforce is welcoming a report which shows New Zealand has world-class systems in place to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

“New Zealand is one of the most difficult places in the world to conduct criminal business and finance terrorism. We are vigilant and our systems can detect and stop these threats,” Andrew Hill said.

The Financial Action Task Force evaluation report was released on April 29 (Paris time). The release comes as the total value of assets restrained by New Zealand Police under our Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act surpasses one billion dollars.

“The evaluation highlights the success New Zealand has had in targeting criminal finances since investment in policing organised crime. This is international recognition of our strategy to make our communities safer for generations to come. We are using all of our tools, including strengthening anti-money laundering systems, to make this the hardest place to do criminal business,” Mr Hill said.

FATF assessed the effectiveness of the New Zealand Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) system across the public and private sectors.

Among the report’s findings were:

  • New Zealand has a robust understanding of its money laundering and terrorist financing risks.
  • Our law enforcement agencies regularly use financial intelligence from the AML/CFT system.
  • New Zealand Police have a strong focus and have developed world-leading expertise in targeting and confiscating of proceeds of crime.
  • There is sound cooperation and coordination between New Zealand Police’s National Security Group, Financial Crime Group, and other relevant agencies.
  • New Zealand was found to be a highly effective international partner contributing to foreign investigations and tenaciously pursuing money laundering globally.

“The evaluation reinforces how effective New Zealand has been at building systems to detect and deter money laundering and terrorism financing. These systems are designed to put the screws on criminal businesses, prevent crime and make our communities safer,” Mr Hill said.

“New Zealand has a well-deserved reputation for transparency, integrity and low levels of corruption. The AML/CFT system helps to protect that reputation and this report will be perceived around the world as an indication that this is a safe place to do business.”

Despite New Zealand’s world-class effectiveness in combating money laundering and terrorism financing, some technical shortcomings in legislation were identified by the FATF. A statutory review of the AML/CFT Act, commencing in mid-2021, will seek to address these issues.

Protective measures to stop and detect terrorism financing are core facets of the FATF system. The potential consequences of small-scale domestic terrorist financing could be very high, the report said.

In particular, funds may be used within, or sent to, New Zealand to finance terrorism activity by lone actors or small terrorist cells.

“We know that the nature of terrorism has been changing internationally, involving lone actors rather than organised terrorist groups,” Mr Hill said.

“The Government recently introduced the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill, designed to boost New Zealand's ability to respond to a wider range of terrorist activities.”

This includes expanding the criminal offence of financing terrorism to include broader forms of material support.

FATF Mutual Evaluation Report: Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing measures(external link)

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