A long-awaited crackdown on New Zealand shell companies is finally expected to come into force tonight when Parliament votes to ammend the Companies Act.
The Companies Amendment Bill (No 4) will require all New Zealand-registered companies to have a local director, and all directors to file identifying information to the registrar of companies, including the company’s ultimate owner, and their date and place of birth.
Parallel legislation requiring limited partnerships to have practically identical residency requirements, the Limited Partnerships Amendment Bill (No 2), will also receive its third reading tonight.
The new law’s genesis came from revelations in early 2010 that a New Zealand-registered company, SP Trading, had leased a plane loaded with 35 tonnes of guns and explosives that was later intercepted in Bangkok trying to smuggle the arms from North Korea to Iran.
Since the SP Trading story broke, generating considerable international media attention, media have discovered widespread use of New Zealand shell companies for illegal activities including the laundering of drug-sale proceeds, the looting of Eastern European state coffers, and international financial scams.