Companies Register to provide more clarity on ownership

Companies Register to provide more clarity on ownership

20 APR 2022

Later this year the government is moving ahead with changes to the law that will make it mandatory for true beneficial owners or controllers of companies, limited partnerships and trusts to be disclosed as it moves to tighten up on money laundering, tax evasion and terrorism financing.

Companies Register to provide more clarity on ownership

Why is this change being made?

Unfortunately, over the last few years New Zealand has gained a reputation as a country that has a quick and simple process to establish a company or a limited partnership. While this has been great for doing business, it has also opened the door to criminals who are looking for an easy way to set up companies to assist with the laundering of elicit funds. You deserve to know exactly who you are doing business with, and this change will provide greater clarity and protection for your business

 What is changing?

 The proposed new measures will make it a requirement as part of the registration process for all companies and limited partnerships to provide accurate information about who the 'beneficial owner' is. 

Under the changes proposed a unique identifier number would be given to all beneficial owners, directors, and partners in companies to make it easier to track them and link them to all businesses they are associated with – past and present. This information would be made publicly available.   

 What does this mean for your business?

Normally when onboarding a company as part of your customer due diligence process you complete a search of the Companies Register. While this information is easily accessible it can be difficult to see a complete picture of a company's ownership structure, e.g., nominee directors and shareholders.

The proposed changes will enable more information to be gathered on your client regarding what other entities they have been involved with so that you can do a deeper dive into their background.

Reporting entities will need to ensure that this new information is captured as ‘written findings’ that will be held on file.

At this stage we don’t know what date these changes will come into effect, but we will keep you posted. If you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch with the team.