FICA battle is far from over, says DA

Cape Town - The battle over the implementation of the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Act (FICA) is far from over, according to the Democratic Alliance, which is calling for a hearing into the matter.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba signed and gazetted various provisions of the FICA, National Treasury announced on Monday. This after the Act was signed into law by President Jacob Zuma on 26 April 2017 and gazetted on 2 May 2017 after several delays.

The piece of legislation seeks to strengthen regulations that deal with money laundering and illicit financial transactions by bringing South Africa into line with standards set by the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

DA MP and spokesperson on finance David Maynier described the FICA as one of the most important “legislative weapons” in the fight against corruption in South Africa.

However, he cautioned that the focus of the FICA now turns to the implementation.

In particular, Maynier pointed out that the implementation of the provision ensuring that “Domestic Prominent Influential Persons” doing business with the state, above a certain threshold amount, is going to be delayed until after October 2 2017.

"There is a risk that the process of determining the threshold amount, taken together with the process of generating the required database, may cause an undue delay or even an indefinite delay, in implementing the Financial Intelligence Amendment Act (No. 1 of 2017)," he said.

"Moreover, an 'inter-departmental forum', which is not provided for in the legislation, and for which there is no authority in law, will be established to replace the 'Counter-Money Laundering Advisory Council'."

Maynier said there are no particulars provided about the establishment of the inter-departmental forum, but he is of the view that there is a real risk that it may be dominated by government's security cluster.

He said this could amount to a “power grab” by the security cluster, which he claimed is "desperate to get control of the Financial Intelligence Centre".

"The formation of the 'inter-departmental forum', taken together with the delay in implementing the provisions relating to 'Domestic Prominent Influential Persons' doing business with the state could have the effect of 'defanging' the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Act (No. 1 of 2017)."

Maynier sid this is why the DA intends on writing to the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, Yunus Carrim, requesting that he schedule a hearing on the progress of implementing the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (No. 1 of 2017).

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