Bank in N.Z. money laundering scandal

The New Zealander insurer that illegally sent the National Bank of Samoa nearly T$30 million has been put into liquidation by the New Zealand Reserve Bank.

A court affidavit from March this year revealed C.B.L Insurance deposited approximately T$30 million to the National Bank of Samoa (N.B.S), where deputy chairman and 19.5 per cent shareholder of C.B.L Alistair Hutchison was a director, up until March.

That $30 million (€12.5) eventually made it to one of C.B.L’s major creditors, AlphaGroup in Denmark (currently in liquidation) which is an act of money laundering called ‘layering’.

The Central Bank of Samoa has a strict no tolerance policy towards money laundering. Governor Maiava Atalina Emma Ainuu-Enari said CBS was not aware of any allegations, however.

“In any case, any person(s)/company proven guilty of a money laundering offence must be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2007,” said Maiava in a written response to questions.

If N.B.S is accused of money laundering, Maiava said it would be “obligated under the law to report this to CBS Financial Intelligence Unit.

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“From a regulatory perspective, we continue to remind financial institutions to be vigilant in identifying as well as reporting money laundering related transactions.”

The National Bank of Samoa no longer lists Alistair Hutchison as a director, and declined to comment on the matter when contacted by this newspaper. 

The court decision to liquidate follows over 12 months of the Reserve Bank chasing C.B.L Insurance for “failing to meet solvency conditions, breaching directives and misreporting to the regulator on an ongoing basis,” according to news site interest.co.nz. 

In August 2017, it appointed McGrathNicol, an advisory firm, to investigate CBL’s financial position.

CBL’s shares on the NZX and ASX were suspended in February and the company was put in voluntary administration, and last week, the insurer’s repeated failures to be honest about its state of business led to its liquidation.

According to the Reserve Bank lawyer, Nathan Gedye QC, the money was incorrectly reported under C.B.L Insurance’s solvency claims, an issue with a “consistent pattern.”

“The bank's view is that based on Mr Atkin's evidence, the information provided to the bank was dishonestly incorrect and that there is a consistent pattern to it over the years 2013 to 2017 and it's important for liquidators with all of their powers to investigate as far as they are permitted to do so by law and make recoveries as required by law,” Mr Gedye said.

In an affidavit to the court made by Toby Fiennes of the Reserve Bank, C.B.L Insurance paid overseas recipients approximately NZ$55 million 8th and 20th of February, despite being told not to by the Reserve Bank in both verbal and written instructions.

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