Have you heard of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act? While it sounds like something exciting from a Jack Ryan novel, the reality for lawyers, real estate agents, accountants, property managers, and other professionals who manage a Trust Account is that we know who all transactions are coming from and going to.
How Will The Anti-Money Laundering Act Impact You?
Even if you have been a client of Godfreys Law for some time, we may have asked you to bring in your passport, driver’s license, and a utility bill or bank statement. We need these documents for two reasons.
First, we need to confirm your identity. Secondly, we need to confirm your address. We need to see the originals and make copies ourselves. Alternatively you can have copies verified by a Justice of the Peace, but we’re happy to make copies for you here.
Under the new law, we are unfortunately not allowed to start work for you until we have sighted those documents and verified your identity. So if you’re looking to buy your first home or sell property for example, we need to confirm your identity before we can start on your property conveyancing case.
Why Do We Need To Verify Your Identity?
The reason for the law coming in is to cut down and identify any suspicious transactions taking place. In particular, the law is looking for people trying to launder money or finance terrorism. Under the Act, Godfreys Law, and all others who operate a Trust Account have a responsibility to report any transactions that look suspicious to the police or the Serious Fraud Office for further investigation.
At Godfreys Law, we’re proud to have been looking after families and businesses for generations. It’s a mark of your trust that in some cases, we have three or four generations of the same family coming to Godfreys Law for all their legal solutions. Thank you.
Even if you have been our client for some time, when you next call us for our services, we may ask you to bring in your passport and your bank statement if we don’t already have those documents on file. We’re not going to call everyone and ask them to make a special trip into our office as a precaution.
There are some exceptions where we don’t need proof of identity in order to act on your behalf. For example, if we’re writing your Will or an Enduring Powers of Attorney, there are no transactions going through our Trust Account and so these aren’t covered by the legislation. If you’re coming into the Godfreys Law office, we may still ask you to bring proof of identity with you. That way, we have verified those documents and have them securely on file in case you need our services again in future. It’s also a great way to make sure we have your up-to-date contact details.
So whether you’re coming to us for the first time or the fiftieth time, please understand if we ask you to bring your passport and proof of address with you.