New Zealand has been rated as less of an anti-money laundering (AML) risk than the Vatican by the US Department of State.
In its just-published ‘International narcotics control strategy report’, the US Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs puts NZ under the ‘other jurisdictions monitored’ list – the least problematic of the three AML risk categories.
The report lumps about 70 countries under each of its AML risk classifications, which also includes ‘jurisdictions of primary concern’ and ‘jurisdictions of concern.
And while the US government rates the Holy See as an AML centre “of concern”, the report puts Australia into its high-risk category.
According to the report, serious and organised crime costs Australia about A$15 billion annually.
“Money laundering remains a key enabler of serious and organised crime,” the study says, with suspicious transaction reports up about 45 per cent in Australia over the last two years.
“In some cases, [the Primary Concern] classification may simply or largely be a function of the size and/or sophistication of the jurisdiction’s economy,” the report says.
However, the risk of terrorism funding is also increasingly a factor in how the US rates AML country risk.
Those countries ranked along with NZ “do not pose an immediate AML concern”, the report says.
“… it is nevertheless important to monitor their money laundering situations because, under certain circumstances, virtually any jurisdiction of any size can develop into a significant money laundering center.”