New Zealand-registered shell companies are being used for money laundering, according to Mike Field’s story in today’s DomPost. Here’s a summary:
in the last two years Fairfax Media has exposed hundreds of companies on the Companies Registry used to launder money.
Last week New Zealand shell companies, using an Albany, Auckland, address were key players in a missing US$1.2 billion (NZ$1.5 billion) from the Kyrgyzstan’s largest bank, AsiaUniversalBank, which, like Anglo Irish, had to be nationalised.
New Zealand has been struck off a prestigious European Union banking “white list” because of the ease with which shell companies can be used to launder drug and terrorist money. This came after revelations a Queen Street shell company washed US$680 million of what may have been Russian Mafia money through a Latvia bank.
Earlier this year Fairfax Media revealed another Queen Street company was implicated in a Ukrainian oil rig scandal involving a missing US$150 million. A London based non-profit NGO, Global Witness, last week said New Zealand had become part of the “off-shore” problem and was “a critical link in the ‘supply chain’ for corruption”.
Field goes on to say:
The government has repeatedly said it will tighten company registration to prevent money laundering, but the bill languishes well down on the order list.
The Companies and Limited Partnerships Amendment Bill was introduced to Parliament on 13 October 2011. It is obviously not a priority. The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act was passed in 2009. Regulations requiring compliance do not come into force until June 30 2013. No hurry then.
Perhaps that’s why Key’s plan for New Zealand to become an international finance centre has been ditched – another casualty on the road to the brighter future.
Key’s government is big on regulating the behaviour of beneficiaries, but slack when it comes to money-launderers. So much for their beloved light-handed regulation.