Law firms, banks and financial entities will be forced to provide police with client details and information on all cash transactions over $10,000 and all international wire transfers from New Zealand of $1000, from yesterday.

The country's banks, credit firms and financial institutions are now liable under new money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws following a grace period to report suspicious transactions.

The new regulations to tell police of fishy transactions were introduced last November under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act, but a "transition period" was allowed by the Ministry of Justice for banks and financial entities to automate the process.

The deadline for complete compliance was yesterday.


There was difficulty with banks' automated systems, which would have been non-compliant with the law, the Herald reported.

As well as notifying police of details of the applicable cash and international wire transfers, personal information including names, account numbers, types and amounts of funds, locations, addresses, phone numbers and "any other identifying information" will also be provided to police under the new laws, which has raised privacy concerns.

In a message to New Zealand's lawyers, the Department of Internal Affairs welcomed them to the "new" world of anti-money laundering.

Internal Affairs is responsible for ensuring businesses included under the new laws, such as lawyers and conveyancers, are complying.

"The sooner everyone is able to comply, the sooner we all start making it much harder for criminals to take advantage," Internal Affairs anti-money laundering director Mike Stone said in a statement to the New Zealand Law Society.

From yesterday, clients of law firms will also be required to provide more information on their identity, while the new rules also apply to conveyancing and the formation of trusts.

In certain cases a person will also be required identify the source of their funds.

The New Zealand Police Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) estimates that $1.35 billion of criminal proceeds is generated for money laundering here every year.


However, the actual transactional value is thought to be several times higher.

FIU manager Andrew Hill said in a statement that the scope of reporting for suspicion in New Zealand will now shift from specific transactions to a wider range of suspicious activity to combat criminals laundering cash.

He said suspicious activity reporting could now include activity such as the change of ownership for a shell company shifting assets, without the need for a transaction to have taken place.

"Ensuring that suspicious activity in the sector is notified ensures that any possible crime has the best chance of being stopped," Hill added.

"While one or more indicators of suspicious activity do not necessarily indicate criminal offending, any number of indicators can trigger suspicion, and police want to hear about these."

Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story online and in the print edition of the New Zealand Herald incorrectly reported that the deadline for complete compliance was today, July 2. It was yesterday, July 1.