Wellington, March 2, 2021
The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has issued a formal warning to Property Brokers Limited for not complying with Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act 2009.
An Internal Affairs press note said that this is the first formal warning issued to a real estate agent under this Legislation.
Property Brokers operates more than 80 branches around New Zealand and employs over 700 staff. The company operates across residential, rural and commercial property.
DIA AML Group Director Mike Stone said that Property Brokers Limited failed to meet several of its AML/CFT obligations relating to the establishment, implementation and maintenance of its AML/CFT programme and the hiring and training of compliance staff.
“They also failed to have adequate policies, procedures and controls for monitoring compliance or to follow guidance material from AML/CFT supervisors,” he said.
But the company is not alleged to be involved in money laundering or the financing of terrorism, he said.
“Real estate is a high-value asset often used domestically and internationally to launder and invest criminal proceeds. Businesses have an obligation to have robust processes in place to protect them from misuse. Our inspection of Property Brokers Limited highlighted concerns and we have a responsibility to act on these concerns. New Zealanders need to have confidence and trust in the integrity of the New Zealand financial system,” Mr Stone said.
He said that Property Brokers Limited is required to take immediate action to rectify all areas of non-compliance and will continue to be closely monitored by DIA officials.
Penalties for continued non-compliance can result in civil penalties of up to $200,000 in the case of an individual, and $2 million in the case of a body corporate; and criminal penalties of imprisonment for up to two years or a fine of up to $300,000, in the case of an individual, and $5 million in the case of a body corporate.
The AML/CFT Act established a system to detect and deter money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and to maintain and enhance New Zealand’s international reputation while growing public confidence in the financial system.
The formal warning to Property Brokers was issued on January 14, 2020 under section 80 of the AML/CFT Act.
Source: Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington