Casino crooks hung out to dry by anti-money laundering law

Criminals are finding it harder to clean their dirty money at New Zealand casinos, with new figures showing a huge drop in suspicious transactions.

The Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism Act was introduced in 2009 and enacted on July 1, 2013.

Since then, casinos have been more stringently required to detect, deter and report money laundering on their premises, with the Act containing harsh penalties if they fail to comply.

Figures released to ONE News under the Official Information Act by the Police's Financial Crime Group show the number of suspicious transactions reported to them by the six New Zealand casinos has dropped dramatically following the new requirements.

In the thirty months to June 30, 2013, the number of suspicious transactions reported by casinos was, on average, 103 per month.

In the thirty months following the implementation of the Act, the average was just 28 per month - a drop of about 73 per cent.

The Police Financial Intelligence Unit's latest quarterly report suggests that part of this downward trend may also be explained by improving reporting processes, leading to fewer, but higher-quality Suspicious Transaction Reports.

Criminals use casinos to hide the origin of their ill-gotten money by purchasing large amounts of chips or gambling credit, before gambling for a short time and then cashing in.

Professor Greg Newbold of Canterbury University says drug precursor importers often launder their money through the casino or offshore. Source: Breakfast

The returned funds and accompanying cashier receipt make the basis for claiming the cash as gambling winnings.

A Department of Internal Affairs spokesperson says New Zealand casinos have been "co-operative and proactive towards meeting their AML/CFT obligations.

"The casinos have risk assessments and programmes and policies established which help them detect and deter money laundering and financing of terrorism."

A SkyCity spokesperson said the company, which owns four of the six New Zealand casinos, "acknowledges the importance of discharging its obligations effectively in this area".

The Police's Acting National Manager of Organised Crime Detective Inspector Stu Mills says New Zealand casinos continue to be a target for criminals who want to hide the origins of their money, like anywhere else in the world.

"In the criminal environment, cash is still king," he says.

"This exposes a weakness and presents opportunities for law enforcement agencies and the business world to work together in the identification of money laundering."

In terms of money laundering hotspots, casinos are the least of New Zealand's worries.

The Police Financial Intelligence Unit reports that the vast majority of suspicious transaction reports submitted in New Zealand are from banks and remittance service providers.

It is estimated that billions of dollars are being channelled through property every year. Source: 1 NEWS

The Government is currently in the process tightening up the AML/CFT Act to cover other professions, such as lawyers, accountants and real estate agents.

This process has been expedited following a joint TVNZ investigation into Panama Papers documents, which revealed links between an Auckland law agency and an exiled Kazakh politician's lavish London home.


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Judith Collins ‘deeply disappointed’ in Jami-Lee Ross as National prepares for caucus showdown - ‘I’m absolutely supporting the leader’

National's Judith Collins says leader Simon Bridges has her full support as he deals with the fallout of his claims renegade MP Jami-Lee Ross was behind the leak of his travel expenses.

A dramatic day yesterday saw Mr Ross take to Twitter, making a series of explosive allegations, before Mr Bridges went public with his belief, based on an investigation, that the Botany MP was behind the leak.

READ MORE: 'Impossible' for Jami-Lee Ross to stay in National Party after expenses leak saga, says 1 NEWS political editor

Mr Ross' future with the party could be decided today as the party meets in Wellington, with Mr Bridges saying yesterday suspension was an option.

READ MORE: John Armstrong's opinion: Simon Bridges would've been castigated as incompetent if he didn't expose Jami-Lee Ross as leaker

Jessica Mutch McKay says Simon Bridges faces a "long, drawn out and embarrassing process to try and get rid of him". Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Collins spoke with 1 NEWS at Auckland Airport today, as she prepared to fly to Wellington, and said she was disappointed with Mr Ross' behaviour.

"I'm absolutely supporting the leader," she said.

"I'm deeply disappointed and sad that Jami-Lee Ross behaved like that.

"Absolutely backing the leader."

Mr Seymour says everyone makes mistakes, and now it’s time to move on from the leaking scandal. Source: Breakfast

Background 

Mr Bridges said the report pointed to Mr Ross as sending an anonymous text that blew the lid on Mr Bridges' travel expenses, days before they were to be made public anyway.

The PWC report said it had not identified the leaker with certainty, however, "the evidence we have points to Mr Ross".

As the National Party leader was about to make the announcement yesterday, Mr Ross posted a number of tweets in which he said he had fallen out with Mr Bridges some months ago.

Mr Ross said in his tweets that he had become "expendable" and that Mr Bridges was about to "pin his leak inquiry on me".

"He can not find who the actual leak is," Mr Ross wrote.

The Opposition leader launched an inquiry into the leak of his expenses earlier this year. Source: 1 NEWS

He claimed Mr Bridges was attempting to use contact with Mr Ross' local police area commander and a journalist he is friends with as evidence that he is "somehow involved".

"I have said they are unrelated - he does not wish to believe that. Some months ago I fell out with Simon. I have internally been questioning leadership decisions he was making, and his personal poll ratings which show he is becoming more and more unlikable in the public’s eyes."

Mr Ross then claimed he had recorded the National Party leader "discussing with me unlawful activity that he was involved in".

In his tweets Mr Ross added: "Working on his instruction, he asked me to do things with election donations that broke the law".

Mr Bridges denied all of Mr Ross' accusations and called Mr Ross' tweets "false comments".

"He would say those things, given the situation… I've released the report… and it speaks for itself."

Other National MPs have hit out at Mr Ross, meaning he is unlikely to find much support for his position.  

Judith Collins says National Party leader Simon Bridges has her support at this morning’s caucus meeting. Source: 1 NEWS

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Fate of National party's expenses leaker Jami-Lee Ross to be decided today at caucus showdown

The fate of accused National party leaker Jami-Lee Ross will be decided by his caucus colleagues today.

That's after yesterday's explosive revelations from National leader Simon Bridges, identifying the Botany MP as the leaker of a report about his travel expenses.

READ MORE: 'Impossible' for Jami-Lee Ross to stay in National Party after expenses leak saga, says 1 NEWS political editor

Mr Bridges said the report pointed to Mr Ross as sending an anonymous text. 

The PWC report said it had not identified the leaker with certainty, however, "the evidence we have points to Mr Ross". 

READ MORE: John Armstrong's opinion: Simon Bridges would've been castigated as incompetent if he didn't expose Jami-Lee Ross as leaker

Jessica Mutch McKay says Simon Bridges faces a "long, drawn out and embarrassing process to try and get rid of him". Source: 1 NEWS

As the National Party leader was about to make the announcement yesterday, Mr Ross posted a number of tweets in which he said he had fallen out with Mr Bridges some months ago.

The Opposition leader launched an inquiry into the leak of his expenses earlier this year. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Ross said in his tweets that he had become "expendable" and that Mr Bridges was about to "pin his leak inquiry on me".

"He can not find who the actual leak is," Mr Ross wrote.

He claimed Mr Bridges was attempting to use contact with Mr Ross' local police area commander and a journalist he is friends with as evidence that he is "somehow involved".

"I have said they are unrelated - he does not wish to believe that. Some months ago I fell out with Simon. I have internally been questioning leadership decisions he was making, and his personal poll ratings which show he is becoming more and more unlikable in the public’s eyes."

It comes after the National expenses leak report pointed the finger at MP Jami-Lee Ross. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Ross then claimed he had recorded the National Party leader "discussing with me unlawful activity that he was involved in".

In his tweets Mr Ross added: "Working on his instruction, he asked me to do things with election donations that broke the law".

Mr Bridges denied all of Mr Ross' accusations and called Mr Ross' tweets "false comments".

"He would say those things, given the situation… I've released the report… and it speaks for itself."

Other National MP's have hit out at Mr Ross, meaning he is unlikely to find much support for his position. 

Mr Ross’ fate appears sealed after a day of explosive revelations over the leaking of Simon Bridges’ travel expenses. Source: Breakfast

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Make sure you stay ahead of the latest news, both nationwide and internationally, from the 1 NEWS team. Source: Breakfast

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Person missing after Christchurch home destroyed by fire

A house has been completely burnt to the ground in Christchurch this morning, with person missing. 

The fire service was called to the scene on Coates Road, Birdlings Flat, at around 4am.

A fire spokesperson told 1 NEWS the house was burning strongly upon arrival at the scene.

One person is still unaccounted for.

Two fire trucks and two tankers remain at the scene while they work on fully extinguishing the blaze.


Fire generic
File picture. Source: 1 NEWS