The identity requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering law in New Zealand has caused some confusion and a little stress amongst our customers. Below is a summary of most of the points made by customers when talking to them about why they need to prove their identity. Here are most of the common ones
I have been a personal customer of Private Box for a long time and I was happy for the service to continue.
The new Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Funding of Terrorism (AML/CFT) law has been in effect since 2013. We have been reviewing the information we have for your account on your anniversary date with us.
However I have now received several emails from the Private Box support insisting that I must complete the identity verification.
Identity Verification is required for every single customer. In most cases we need photo ID (passport or national ID card) and proof of address. We also need to meet face to face (eg. video call) or received certified documents. For more info on our ID requirements please see Identity Requirements (2017)
Previously I have been told (and your website reports) the identity verification is not required for personal customers.
There has been some messaging in the past that said personal customers were exempt from verifying their identity. This is no longer the case.
I have now been informed by support that "Failure to provide the necessary ID will result in us no longer being able to offer you mail services".
That’s correct. We are in breach of the law when we supply services to someone whose identity we cannot verify.
You use lots of abbreviated terms which are not explained in the email or on your website, such as AML CFT, TCSP and DIA. I have no idea what all of these terms mean.
AML/CFT = the Anti-Money Laundering / Counter Funding of Terrorism Act. An “act” is a piece of legislation that is passed into law by the New Zealand government. This is the act that makes it a criminal offence if we do not identify our customers. We normally just refer to this as AML or the AML act.
TCSP = Trust and Company Service Provider. This is the type of entity we are identified as under by the AML act.
DIA = Department of Internal Affairs. This is our ‘supervisor’ for our implementation of the AML/CFT act.
DOB = Date of Birth
I find you are trying to bully me into doing something I do not understand and which completely contradicts the previous messages I have received.
We understand that it is frustrating and we can do better with our messaging. Sometimes we find it difficult making customers understand that there are criminal penalties for Private Box Limited when not complying with this law. We simply have to do it and we need our customers to help us with this.
If the request is based on the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009, I do not believe your business is listed within the definition of reporting entity under section 5 of the Act, it is not a bank or financial institution?
Great question! Private Box is a mail forwarding company and does not deal with financial transactions - how can you launder money in the first place! At first look you would think the AML act would exclude us. However - we are caught in the AML regulations seen here - http://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2011/0222/latest/DLM3845869.html. Particularly this bit -
" (2) This regulation applies to a person who carries out, as the only or principal part of their business, 1 or more of the following activities: ... (c)providing a registered office, a business address, a correspondence address, or an administrative address for a company, a partnership, or any other legal person or arrangement.".
So its the "correspondence address" part of this law that has all of our customers caught by the act! We are as frustrated as you are at these new laws! It's very heavy handed and we have requested an exemption from the Minister of Justice which has been denied by the Honourable Simon Bridges (please see letter attached below).
We have also seeked clarification on the term “legal persons” and have received this advice from our legal team:
“Natural people are also considered “legal persons” for the purposes of the regulations.”
Here is the full explanation:
“There is no definition of “legal persons” in the regulations or Act. The Interpretation Act 1999 does not define this term either. The Interpretation Act’s definition of person is ‘person includes a corporation sole, a body corporate, and an unincorporated body’.
There is no explicit legislation on the fact that a natural person is a “person” at law. The reason for this is that it is not arguable that the term “person” does not include a natural person as that is the word’s basic meaning. The term “legal” in front of the word “person” simply notes it is the legal form of “person” the law is concerned with (i.e. the term is widened from its ordinary meaning to include companies etc).”
This basically means a “legal person” is normal people as well as other legal entities (like companies and trusts).
Part of verification of any details usually involve giving out those details, as in the case of obtaining a credit report, so they may be confirmed with the relevant agency. Therefore the privacy promise is violated if my details are given to others.
We are required by law to verify your details. We do this by using providers in different countries that give us access to public databases and credit files in those countries. We only work with suppliers that we are satisfied that they have strong privacy practises of their own.
We do not get a credit report on our customers. If the credit file is available in a country for a certain individual then the details supplied to us are cross-referenced with their file (eg. name, DOB and residential address).
Does Private Box receive a financial benefit for giving out this information to these corporations, who admit in their own privacy statements that they then provide it to others?
Of course not. We actually pay these companies for a service. We do not receive any financial benefit and they will not disclose our customer's details to anyone else. If they did they would be in breach of the contract we have with them.
If you have concerns around this area we can let you know which organisations we have cross-referenced your details with and what contractual obligations they are under to keep your information safe.
Customers who value their privacy would be alarmed at the flimsiness of the Private Box Ltd Privacy promise as mentioned from your website above; personal information is being shared with multiple organisations and onsold again and again!
This is simply not true. The information is not on-sold. We value our customers privacy. In fact, we wouldn’t have much of a business if customers did not trust us with their personal details (like their mail!). We are proud of the level service we provide our customers around protecting their privacy while making their lives more convenient. We have legal obligations and are fulfilling them in an efficient and professional manner.
However I will not consent to my private details then being given to third parties some of whom are foreign institutions in the USA and Canada for so called verification, why would these institutions already have the private information of New Zealand customers anyway?
These companies will have agreements in place with the New Zealand government to access official databases like the drivers license database with NZTA or the passport database with DIA. Only companies that pass a high level of scrutiny are allowed to access these databases and these are the only type of companies that we work with.
It is much easier (and cheaper) to work with a company that has access to these databases themselves rather than attempting to get access directly ourselves.
When I paid my annual renewal I entered into an agreement with your company on the then current terms and conditions. The fact that since paying my renewal membership you have now decided that some AML legislation applies to me is a demand outside our agreement. Similarly termination of my service on that basis is also a breach of our contract.
It also says in our terms and conditions that we can choose who we provide services to (“We have no obligation to offer, or to continue to offer, the Private Box service to anyone”).
However - we try to be fair with everyone and give people good warning if we can’t offer them services. Hence why you have received notice that your account will be closed unless you complete the verification steps.