25 Mar 2017

Anti-laundering rules raise privacy concerns

12:44 pm on 25 March 2017

New regulations to combat money laundering and terrorism financing need to be closely monitored to ensure they're not abused, a privacy law specialist has warned.

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Photo: 123rf

Under the new rules, coming into force 1 November, banks will be required to give details of international transfers above $1000, and any cash transactions within New Zealand above $10,000 dollars.

The rules are being applied under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009, after regulations were passed in November defining the amount of money that would require banks to disclose transfer details.

The details will include include the customer's name, address, phone number, and IP address.

Police said more than $1.5 billion is laundered through New Zealand bank transfers each year.

Bankers' Association chief executive Karen Scott-Howman said banks strike a delicate balance between protecting their customers, and helping police.

"We support the policy aim of fighting money laundering and terrorist financing, it's pretty hard not to, but we always have the interest of our customers at the forefront and want to make sure that that balance is struck correctly.

Wellington privacy lawyer Katrine Evans, said the new rules gave police a lot of information and power - which they would have to use responsibly.

"We need to be sure that these new rules are necessary and that they're actually effective," she said.

I think it's important that we review how the legislation is working. If it's not being as effective as expected then we need to cut back.

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