Auckland firm inspected over anti-money laundering rules

Published by Jane Patterson –

Government authorities have carried out an on-site inspection of an Auckland company to make sure it’s upholding its obligations under anti-money laundering laws.

Denton Morrell has been identified as helping to manage a network of New Zealand-registered businesses and trusts for clients linked to international companies suspected of money-laundering.

Sources claim this network leads back to the Azerbaijan government, which has been accused of corruption and money laundering.

Denton Morrell is required to report to the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009.

The day before RNZ’s original investigation was published in April, the DIA asked the company’s sole director, Matthew Butterfield, to contact them, which he did.

The next day, on 19 April, the department notified Mr Butterfield it would be carrying out an onsite inspection, and asked him to provide copies of various documents, including the risk assessments, its Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) programme, and details about the organisational structure.

The department has said a 2015 ‘desk-based’ review of the company found it to be compliant with anti-money laundering laws, but the on-site inspection was to see how Denton Morrell was meeting its obligations.

In response, Mr Butterfield emailed the compliance officer saying he would provide the DIA with the documents requested.

He also asked about the timeframe for the review.

“I’m not in any way trying to underplay the seriousness of this all but I am confident that we have fulfilled our obligations, am very happy to work with you to show that”, Mr Butterfield wrote.

The DIA has refused to say what the outcome of the inspection was.

“We are unable to discuss details of any investigations as it could prejudice the prevention, investigation, and detection of offences and could prejudice a fair trial in the event of any prosecution.”

But it did say Mr Butterfield “willingly cooperated with the department and provided us with all the necessary documentation so that we could carry out our review”.

“As with all our reporting entities, the department will continue to work with Denton Morrell to ensure it meets its obligations under the Act.”

Mr Butterfield confirmed the inspection had taken place, but also declined to comment on the outcome.