A company and two of its employees have been found guilty of failing to report $53.4 million of suspicious transactions from an international business mogul in the first New Zealand case of its kind.

After a judge-alone trial in October, Justice Tracey Walker delivered her verdicts today in the High Court at Auckland.

She found the financial company and duo - all of which cannot be identified for legal reasons - guilty of all four total charges.

They were failing to conduct customer due diligence, failing to keep adequate records of suspicious transactions, failing to report suspicious transactions and structuring a transaction to avoid Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act (AML/CFT) requirements.

Advertisement

The charges did not allege money laundering.

However, the three guilty parties - which include a man in his 30s and woman in her 60s - were not immediately convicted by Justice Walker this morning.

She did so to allow defence counsel David Jones QC to seek instructions from his clients about the precedent-setting case before a sentencing hearing in February.

The case saw the first such criminal trial to be heard in New Zealand's courts since specific anti-money laundering laws were introduced a decade ago.

Defence counsel David Jones QC, pictured making a submission for his clients during the trial. Photo / NZ Herald
Defence counsel David Jones QC, pictured making a submission for his clients during the trial. Photo / NZ Herald

The company and duo were charged over some 311 suspicious transactions totalling more than $53m in 2016 for an international businessman.

Much of the money was alleged to have been sourced from a pyramid scheme, Crown prosecutor Sam McMullan told Justice Walker during the trial.

The money, he said, was "intentionally concealed" by the company and "aided" by the accused pair.

The alleged actions of the company and duo displayed a "flagrant disregard" for their legal obligations under the AML/CFT, McMullan said.

Advertisement

New Zealand's financial reputation, he continued, relied on the robust processes of the AML/CFT to protect it from the risks of those seeking to launder funds.

The mogul's primary contact was the individual female employee, while a shell office in Auckland was also kept for the sole benefit of the mogul.

Jones had said during the trial that the elephant in the room was the identity of the mogul.

"He is an international businessman, a very wealthy man, owning substantial assets. That of course is significant and important in terms of the transactions undertaken."

The mogul cannot be identified until an interim suppression order expires for the company and duo, which will be no later than 4pm on Monday, Justice Walker said today.

Justice Tracey Walker delivered her verdicts today in the first case of its kind in New Zealand. Photo / NZ Herald
Justice Tracey Walker delivered her verdicts today in the first case of its kind in New Zealand. Photo / NZ Herald