New Zealand Police has a strong focus on confiscation of proceeds of crime, backed by a top-level target for the volume of criminal assets to be restrained, says the Financing Action Task Force (FATF). The goal is NZ$500m (US$350m, €297m) this year.

“The skilled asset recovery unit works in co-operation with investigative authorities to initiate parallel restraint and forfeiture proceedings in response to identified crime and financial intelligence.

“New Zealand has pursued international asset recovery cases that involve significant volumes of inbound and outbound proceeds,” read a mutual evaluation report by the Asia Pacific Group of the Paris-based FATF after a site visit to the country.

Also, New Zealand’s law enforcement agencies regularly use financial intelligence, including the police’s financial intelligence unit disseminating a wide range of financial intelligence products which generally support authorities’ operational needs.

“However, New Zealand authorities could benefit from better exploiting the potential of financial intelligence to detect criminal activity by persons not already known to law enforcement,” the report added. 

The authors also wrote: “New Zealand has a robust understanding of its money laundering and terrorist financing risks. It has established a comprehensive multi-tiered risk assessment process, with its national risk assessment undergoing two full cycles.”

One weakness noted in the report was reporting entities having a variable understanding of targeted financial sanctions due to limited guidance and outreach by relevant authorities and no mandate for supervisors to supervise implementation.

Another short coming identified in the report was with the banking supervisor whose scope and depth of inspections do not adequately reflect the risk and complexity of the banks inspected.

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