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Government to crack down on business criminals

The government will crack down on company registration and directors under a new bill tabled by commerce minister Simon Power, intended to stamp out foreigners using New Zealand as a haven to carry out criminal business activity.

The government will crack down on company registration and directors under a new bill tabled by commerce minister Simon Power, intended to stamp out foreigners using New Zealand as a haven to carry out criminal business activity.

The outgoing minister introduced the Companies and Limited Partnerships Bill yesterday, which will require foreign companies to have a local resident agent if they don’t have a New Zealand director.

It gives the Registrar of Companies greater powers to investigate and deal with non-compliance with the Companies Act and remove companies from the register and ban directors who fall foul of the rules from taking part in managing any company for up to five years.

In addition, the bill also proposes similar changes to the Limited Partnerships Act, and the introduction of criminal offences for directors who commit a serious breach of their duties to act in good faith. Directors who commit these offences are liable for imprisonment of up to five years or fines of up to $200,000.

“New Zealand has an international reputation as one of the best and most trusted places in the world to do business," Power said.

“However, that is threatened by overseas interests using New Zealand-registered shell companies to undertake criminal activity."

He said the bill would aid in stamping out such behaviour and help ensure New Zealand remained a trusted place to do business.

Power also introduced the Financial Markets Conduct Bill this week, which will revamp New Zealand securities law, and the Commerce (Cartels and Other Matters) bill, which will criminalise price collusion.

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