Money Laundering and You
For some time now, people still get a surprised reaction when they hear about money laundering in New Zealand. For authorities to say that annually 1.3 billion dollars of laundered money goes through the New Zealand economy is as bewildering and as alien as ET .
But money laundering is a big problem in New Zealand as it is globally. In the last year alone, authorities have restrained 1.3 billion worth of assets that were criminally derived. Only 300 million was fully confiscated. These comprised of cash, designer bags, vehicles and properties. All these are products and proceeds of illegal drugs, fraud or tax evasion which are the major source of money laundering offences in New Zealand.
The tightening of regulations around banks to stem the flow of illegal cash into the system has driven offenders to engage in more creative ways to hide the dirty money. Stopping the flow of benefit from doing crime requires a concerted action from everyone. We might think we are not really affected, and we are not victims of money laundering.
But imagine this: Someone buys a property beside yours. They were able to splurge cash on a property beside your house. The new owners do not seem to have any visible means of income or a job. And yet they are at the house most days. Suddenly, their associates are visiting them, doing burnouts on the streets. Someone was beaten while walking on a once quiet street, the victim of mistaken identity and other petty crimes are happening like some youngsters pulling out letterboxes and dumping it on someone else’s lawn. Your once peaceful existence is suddenly threatened by this newcomer and their associates. You feel the need to install cameras and make sure you lock your doors and windows. You no longer feel safe. With criminals being able to enjoy their profits of their illegal activities, you have lost your ability to enjoy your life and to feel safe.
What could have been done?
If the lawyer who acted for this newcomer has done due diligence, they would have been asked for their identity and the source of funds. If the lawyer feel that the funds used to purchase the property seems to come from illegitimate source such as illegal drugs, the purchase would not have happened. You would still have continued to enjoy your life as it was in your quiet street.
Stopping criminals from enjoying the proceeds of their crime makes our communities safe. By making sure that businesses such as lawyers, accountants, real estate agents and high-value dealers scrutinise their customers by asking for identity and the legitimacy of funds helps us safeguard our communities from harm that criminals bring.
Keeping New Zealand safe from proliferation of dirty money is to everyone’s benefit. By doing our bit in our own little ways such as presenting our identity which is as little as showing our driver license or passport and proof of our address when asked for makes for safer communities.
Let us do our part.