Real estate agents in New Zealand have stepped up their commitment to stemming the flow of illegal funds, by refusing to sell to buyers who cannot produce proper identification documents.
The move comes after several attempted purchases of homes in Auckland with cash deposits for several hundred thousand New Zealand dollars.
Now, cash deposits on homes used to be the stuff estate agents were built on. In a world where transactions take a long time and are often dependent on the agreement of several different parties, cash up front for a property was a welcome offer. No questions were needed when money did all the talking, and no-one cared who was behind the cash.
This voluntary change of practice brings New Zealand’s estate agents in line with other money laundering reporting sectors, according to a spokeswoman. Moreover, it indicates how far financial crime awareness has penetrated into business. Business owners have shifted their priorities from going all out to bring in sales, to discerning between sales to credible buyers, supported by identification.
Real estate, as AML veterans know well, has provided an ideal sluice for dirty cash in the past. Organised criminals have often turned to bricks and mortar to conceal the proceeds of crime, buying homes outright or with hefty cash deposits from estate agents who asked no questions about the source of funds. But if a lack of ID is the only obstacle to making a purchase, any number of fake identification documents could be produced to back up the buyer. Estate agents would be well placed to look for any number of red flags that might raise suspicion in a real estate sale.
Click here for the full article from the New Zealand Herald.