By Ivana Mlinac
Tell us a bit about your background, describe your current role, and your responsibilities
I’m a Chartered Accountant and have been involved in law firm management with firms in NZ and internationally for 25 years more or less. Anderson Creagh Lai is a boutique commercial firm and as CEO I am responsible for all aspects of the firm's management and operations including acting as Compliance Officer.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
Working every day with a great group of people and being able to apply my experience to the benefit of the firm.
What is your opinion of the current AML/CFT regime within New Zealand? And, how does this compare internationally?
The regime is very similar to the one I worked with in the Middle East. It is fit for purpose and if organisations are diligent, compliance is not too onerous. It definitely will aid firms in identifying and reporting criminal behaviour among clients which is a positive for all of us.
What made you interested in AML/CFT and financial crime?
Honestly, it was a case of needing to be competent to execute the job properly. As you get into this you appreciate that it isn’t bureaucracy, it’s necessary and important to do well.
What is the most important thing you have learned when it comes to AML/CFT?
While the importance to organisations in the Middle East where I got my grounding in this is self-evident, NZ organisations need to understand that they have a key role to play in defeating criminal ML behaviour here and internationally, and that physical distance from major terrorist organisations is no protection from their attempting to use you as a dupe if your systems are weak.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have experienced in AML/CFT?
In the early days, getting the teams to understand that the system is relevant to our organisations, not an inconvenience.
What would you consider to be a key thing people forget or do not understand when it comes to AML/CFT?
The consequences of inadvertently facilitating ML or TF would be reputationally devastating, probably an existential threat to a firm whose clients are very likely to go elsewhere.
How do you tend to keep up to date with all things AML/CFT?
Reading whatever I can get my hands on. Also I am very active in the process, that keeps you current.
Do you think your sector adapted well to being under the AML/CFT Regime in New Zealand?
Hard to say, I know we are well set up and understand what to do and why we are doing it. I have no visibility of other firms. I hope that they take it seriously.
What is one of the most rewarding parts of working within your sector and supporting the AML/CFT regime within New Zealand?
Law firms are pivotal to ML activity where criminals want to buy large assets. We can disrupt that and make a difference.