Straya: Strong on terror…unless you buy a house


By Leith van Onselen

The New Zealand Government continues to forge ahead with the second tranche of anti-money laundering (AML) regulations capturing real estate agents, accountants, lawyers, and other non-financial businesses, promising to pass legislation by July 2017. From

[Justice Minister Amy Adams] said extending the anti-money laundering laws will tighten the net around financial criminals and bolster crime-fighting efforts…

“I announced in mid-2015 that we had kicked off the early stages of work on the next phase of AML to include other professions, such as lawyers, accountants, and real estate agents. It’s my intention to fast-track these reforms and introduce a Bill to Parliament later this year, which I aim to pass by July 2017, with implementation to follow as soon as practically feasible,” said Adams…

Now compare the New Zealand Government’s approach to Australia’s.

The Australia Government first agreed to implement the second tranche of AML regulations in 2003. Yet 13 years later, these have been delayed indefinitely by the government.

This indefinite delay comes despite the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) last year releasing a scathing report highlighting that Australian residential property is a haven for international money laundering, particularly from China, and recommending that Australia implement counter-measures to ensure that real estate agents, lawyers and accountants facilitating real estate transactions are captured by the regulatory net.


FATF’s findings were then backed-up by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), which warned that “laundering of illicit funds through real estate is an established money laundering method in Australia”.

And just last month, the Statutory Review of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 was released, which among other things called for the extension of AML to non-financial gatekeepers like real estate agents, lawyers and accountants.

Does the Australian Government seriously want us to become the South Pacific’s sole money laundering paradise, whereby dirty money continues to be washed through our homes? Because that’s where we are heading if the Government does not follow New Zealand’s lead.


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About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.