AML/CFT supervisors extend annual report deadline

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the Financial Markets Authority, and the Department of Internal Affairs (together, the Supervisors) have agreed to extend the deadline for reporting entities to submit their annual anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) reports due to the current COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions.

This statement also referred back to last year’s guidance on identity verification obligations under COVID-19 Alert Levels (COVID-19 Verification Guidance), which remains applicable.  Our discussion of this guidance can be found on our website.

Who needs to read it?  Why?

Given all of New Zealand is currently at Alert Level 4, this will be relevant to any reporting entities that have yet to complete and submit their AML/CFT annual reports.

Similarly, the reminder about the COVID-19 Verification Guidance will be useful for any reporting entities that are onboarding customers and triggering identity verification obligations during this time.

What does it cover?

One of the obligations on reporting entities under the AML/CFT regime is to prepare a report annually on its risk assessment and compliance programme, and to provide that report to its respective Supervisor.  The Supervisors have set the deadline for submitting these annual reports at 31 August each year.

However, as New Zealand is currently at COVID-19 Alert Level 4, with all the restrictions that entails, the Supervisors acknowledged that some reporting entities may not be able to access the information required for them to complete their annual reports.  The deadline has accordingly been delayed from 31 August to 30 September 2021.

Mentioning the COVID-19 Verification Guidance also serves to remind reporting entities that the Supervisors have not generally made concessions around AML/CFT obligations under the Alert Levels.  Instead, reporting entities are expected to continue to satisfy their obligations, and are referred to existing mechanisms within the regime that may assist with that.

Our view

Given this latest increase in Alert Level has occurred so close to the annual report submission deadline, and that the consequences of noncompliance with AML/CFT obligations can be significant, this extension will come as a relief to those reporting entities that have not yet submitted their reports for the July 2020-June 2021 year.

At the same time, the reference back to the COVID-19 Verification Guidance will help remind reporting entities that, in the absence of a specific extension or modification like this, the Supervisors’ expectations remain that reporting entities fully comply with their obligations.

What next?

If you have any questions in relation to your business’s AML/CFT obligations, or the regime more generally, please contact one of our experts.

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