New Zealand Companies Office Tightens Compliance Rules

February 24, 2011 International FinanceNew Zealand Finance

Maleís hand writing in the documentThe New Zealand Companies Office has recently tightened compliance controls on the formation and registration of New Zealand companies with overseas directors and shareholders, or companies suspected of being nominee companies for overseas entities.

The New Zealand Companies Office has recently stepped up its documentation requirements for registration of New Zealand companies with overseas directors and shareholders. Some newly registered companies with non-resident directors and shareholders have recently received letters from the Companies Office, instructing them to provide extra documentation confirming the identities of the directors and shareholders. The letters contained instructions to provide evidence for each natural person whose signature is on the company documents, such as certified or original copies of the passports, or appropriate identification documentation. The letters stated that the information will be used to ensure that the companies and all involved persons have fully complied with the rules set out in the Companies Act 1993.

Further information has recently appeared on the Companies Office website, stating that some new company registrations may now be subject to additional consent and identity verification processes. The website stated that the tightened controls are being implemented to address companies which are being incorporated “as a nominee company for overseas interests”.

It is unknown whether the documentation requirements are a permanent or temporary measure, with the Companies Office not revealing its intentions for the future. Analysts suggested that the compliance efforts are a result of recent events relating to New Zealand companies with non-resident directors and shareholders. In one such example, a New Zealand registered company with international shareholders, was alleged to have links to a series of companies involved with a large scale international weapons smuggling scheme.

Photo by Damon Duncan