New Zealand: First real estate agency warned for anti-money laundering failures

A nationwide property-buying company has been issued with a formal anti-money laundering warning.

Real estate agency Property Brokers failed to comply with Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism laws, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) said.

It was the first formal warning issued to a real estate agent, DIA said.

Property Brokers, which had more than 80 branches around the country, and employed over 700 staff, helped people buy homes and commercial properties.

Mike Stone, director of DIA’s anti-money laundering team said Property Brokers had failed to meet several of its obligations relating to the establishment, implementation and maintenance of its anti-money laundering programme.

That included 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,” Stone said.

But, he said, the company was not alleged to be involved in money laundering or the financing of terrorism.

“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” Stone said.

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