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MinterEllisonRuddWatts (MinterEllison) is a top-tier New Zealand full-service law firm. Named New Zealand Law Firm of the Year by Chambers and Partners in 2017, MinterEllison is known for providing clients with innovative legal solutions and advice.
Its offices in Auckland and Wellington provide clients access to an international network of experienced legal and business advisers across a wide range of sectors through the MinterEllison Legal Group. According to the 2016 Acritas brand index, the MinterEllison Legal Group is regarded as one of the Asia-Pacific’s top 10 law firm brands.
The teams at MinterEllisonRuddWatts collaborate to deliver legal expertise across key industry sectors including Energy and Resources, Infrastructure, Government, Health, Banking and Financial Services, Managed Funds, Technology and TMT.
On 1 July 2018, New Zealand effected new money laundering laws to help improve the country’s ability to tackle money laundering and terrorism financing. The new laws under its Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Amendment Act 2017 (Phase 2) were designed to deter criminal activity and enhance New Zealand’s international reputation as a one of the safest places to conduct business.
These changes meant that lawyers and law firms such as MinterEllison operating in New Zealand were expected to undertake a higher level of due diligence with clients than they did previously. This included accessing specific identification in a wider range of circumstances. In the past, law firms were not required to collect this information other than in very specific circumstances.
The new laws required law firms to conduct customer due diligence (CDD) according to the level of risk posed by their customers. The AML/CFT Act prohibits firms from undertaking certain activities or transactions for a client if they are unable to conduct CDD.
To adhere to the new laws, Minter Ellison were required to conduct “know your customer” investigations involving background checks of identity, date of birth and address. This information would need to be confirmed by acceptable documents such as a driver’s licence or birth certificate and documents showing an address.
Where the client is an organisation such as a company or trust, MinterEllison also needed to verify information about the stakeholders associated with it, such as directors, shareholders, trustees and beneficiaries.
To comply with New Zealand’s new AML/CFT rules, MinterEllison went to market seeking an automated system to streamline its client onboarding process, incorporating due diligence requirements.
It partnered with VIX Verify to trial its greenID Mobile and greenID Business onboarding solutions for individual clients and organisations. greenID Mobile was chosen to verify individuals because of the mobile app’s intuitive user interface and superior biometric capabilities.
The MinterEllison team selected greenID Business to onboard companies and other organisations as it automated the retrieval of business and beneficial ownership information from the NZBN registry, enabling MinterEllison to compile and verify data on complex company structures in one simple electronic record.
After a month-long testing phase, MinterEllison rolled out both systems to clients on 1 July 2018, in time to meet its CDD obligations under the new AML/CTF regime.
Today MinterEllison uses greenID Mobile and greenID Business to make its onboarding process as painless as possible for clients. Most importantly, greenID has helped MinterEllison comply with new legislation without compromising on customer experience.
“If we hadn’t used greenID for client verification, we would have slowed down our client onboarding process. We would have had to rely on certified copies of ID documents and would have required an additional process for screening our clients against the sanctions watch list. We have been really impressed with the greenID team in New Zealand who have understood our issues and been really responsive. Their willingness to work with us particularly around the business verification product and to customise it to our needs has been very impressive. I get the sense that they are coming along for the journey”.
Ian MacKenzie, the AML/CFT Project Implementation Lead at MinterEllisonRuddWatts.