ROSA WOODS / Stuff
Property is an area with high risk of money laundering for organized crime, including for criminals from abroad.
A national company for buying mortgages has been issued with a formal warning against money laundering.
Real Estate Brokers Property Brokers failed to comply with anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing laws, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) said.
It was the first formal warning issued to a broker, DIA said.
Property Brokers, which had more than 80 branches around the country, and employed more than 700 employees, helped people buy homes and commercial properties.
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Mike Stone, director of DIA’s anti-money laundering team, said that Property Brokers had not fulfilled several of its obligations regarding the establishment, implementation and maintenance of its anti-money laundering program.
This included hiring and training compliance staff.
The government has told the Reserve Bank to take house prices into account when considering monetary policy. The move has had consequences for investors and mortgage speculators.
“They also do not have adequate policies, procedures and controls in place to monitor compliance or follow-up material from AML / CFT supervisors,” Stone said.
But, he said, the company was not accused of being involved in money laundering other than the financing of terrorism.
“Real estate is a high-value asset often used domestically and internationally to launder and invest criminal proceeds. Companies have a duty to have robust processes to protect themselves from abuse, ”Stone said.
“Our inspection of Property Brokers highlighted concerns, and we have a responsibility to address those concerns. New Zealanders need to have confidence and confidence in the integrity of New Zealand’s financial system.”
The company had to take immediate action to improve all areas of non-compliance and would be closely monitored by DIA officials, Stone said.
Fines for continued non-compliance could result in civil penalties of up to $ 200,000 for individuals, and $ 2 million for businesses, and even imprisonment, he said.
Property Brokers described themselves as “real estate real estate experts” who provided services and support to buyers and sellers of homes.