ROSA WOODS / Stuff
The property is a high risk area for money laundering for organized crime, including foreign criminals.
A nationwide property purchasing company has received a formal warning against money laundering.
Real estate agency Property Brokers did not follow laws against money laundering and terrorist financing, the Department of Home Affairs (DIA) said.
This was the first formal warning to a real estate agent, the DIA said.
Real estate brokers, which had more than 80 branches across the country and employed more than 700 people, helped people buy homes and commercial properties.
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Mike Stone, director of the DIA’s anti-money laundering team, said real estate brokers have failed to meet many of their obligations relating to establishing, implementing and maintaining its anti-money laundering program.
This included the hiring and training of compliance staff.
“They also did not have adequate policies, procedures and controls in place to monitor compliance or to follow guidance documents from AML / CFT supervisors,” Stone said.
But, he said, the company was not suspected of being involved in money laundering or terrorist financing.
“Real estate is a valuable asset often used nationally and internationally to launder and invest the proceeds of crime. Businesses have an obligation to have strong processes in place to protect them from abuse, ”Stone said.
“Our inspection of real estate brokers revealed concerns, and we have a responsibility to act on those concerns. New Zealanders must have confidence in the integrity of New Zealand’s financial system.
The company was required to take immediate action to rectify all areas of non-compliance and would continue to be closely watched by DIA officials, Stone said.
Sanctions for continued non-compliance could result in civil penalties of up to $ 200,000 for individuals and $ 2 million for businesses, and even jail time, he said.
Real estate brokers have described themselves as “residential real estate sales experts” providing service and support to home buyers and sellers.