Who is meant to follow the cash?

2011-07-30 17:30

South Africa has sophisticated systems to deal with cases such as the one where large amounts of cash ­allegedly flowed ­into ANC Youth League president ­Julius Malema’s trust fund.

But the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) this week refused to say whether or not Absa – where the trust has a bank account – had reported the trust’s transactions, citing privacy clauses.

Financial institutions are compelled by the law to report all cash transactions of more than R25?000 to the FIC.

Asked if the FIC was legally obliged to investigate the allegations made against the administration of the Ratanang Family Trust’s bank account, FIC spokesperson Lerato Nkosi said the centre’s mandate was to identify the proceeds of acts of crime, money laundering and the financing of ­terrorism.

“All financial institutions have a legal obligation and indeed a social responsibility to report to the ­Financial Intelligence Centre any financial transactions they believe to have involved wrongdoing.”

“They are also required to report cash transactions exceeding R25?000,” he said.

“Through its legislative mandate the FIC must perform ­enquiries into transactions reported to the organisation.

“The FIC does this by gathering additional information and processing it ­before making it available to the law ­enforcement authorities in their­ ­investigations.”

Absa spokesperson Khulani ­Qoma declined to say whether or not the bank had reported cash transactions over R25?000 in the trust’s bank account to the FIC.

“Absa strictly upholds the commitment to respect client ­confidentiality and we will never deviate from that,” he said.

City Press will tomorrow ask the Chief Master of the High Court to investigate the family trust of ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.

This comes after the paper revealed last week that the Ratanang Family Trust had paid R900?000 cash for a smallholding outside Polokwane and quoted a businessman who claimed he had paid R200?000 into the trust’s bank ­account after Malema facilitated a government tender for his ­business.

When the trust was registered in May 2009 Malema was the sole trustee.

The Mail & Guardian Online reported this week that Malema’s grandmother, Sarah, was added as a co-trustee in May last year.

In terms of the Act the trustees shall, at his written request, account to the Master “to his satisfaction” and produce any book, record, account or document relating to the administration or disposal of the trust property.

The Master can also ask for an investigation to be carried out by a “fit and proper person” appointed by him into the administration of the trust.

Asked whether he would initiate an investigation into the Ratanang Family Trust following the City Press exposé, advocate Lothian Basson, the Chief Master, asked the paper to provide him with full reasons why an investigation was necessary.

Basson indicated that he would be willing to appoint an investigator if the reasons proved to be ­persuasive.

City Press editor-in-chief Ferial Haffajee said the paper would submit a request for a formal investigation: “We are making that formal ­request in pursuance of an investigation that is almost two years old and is in the public interest,” she said.

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