No timeframe yet for FICA implementation - Cabinet

Cape Town - The regulations that will flow from the signing of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) into law will be finalised soon so that the amended piece of legislation can take effect, said Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo on Thursday. 

During a media briefing following the fortnightly Cabinet meeting, Dlodlo said Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba is currently consulting all the relevant stakeholders that will be part of overseeing FICA. This includes banks, the Financial Intelligence Centre and the prosecuting authorities. 

President Jacob Zuma signed the FIC Bill into law on April 29 after dragging his heels for several months. 

READ: Relief as Zuma signs FICA Bill into law 

He sent the bill back to Parliament in November – six months after it was referred to him for signing, citing concerns over the constitutionality of a provision that deals with warrantless searches. 

The bill was subjected to another round of public hearings hosted by the standing committee on finance, after which National Treasury made a number of amendments, including clarifying that warrantless searches are for the purposes of compliance only and are not permitted in the course of criminal investigations. 

Dlodlo said on Thursday Cabinet welcomes the signing of the bill into law and noted it will help strengthen the transparency and integrity of the South African financial system. She added it will make it harder for criminals involved in tax evasion, money laundering and illicit financial flows to hide while using the country’s financial systems. 

“It forms part of a number of instruments we have as a country to fight white collar crime in both the private and public sector,” Dlodlo said.  

READ: ANC abhors money laundering, says Ramaphosa on FIC Bill 

In addition to fighting terrorism funding and money laundering, FICA will also place greater scrutiny on the affairs of politically influential people. 

This provision is one of the reasons why the Progressive Professionals Forum (PPF) under Mzwanele Manyi has vehemently opposed the amended legislation. 

Manyi said on a number of occasions that this provision will render people employed by government or the family members of state employees “suspect”, as they’d be regarded as prominent or influential persons. 

READ: Zuma asked not to sign Bill that would scrutinise bank deals - report 

The PPF claimed the legislation could therefore violate the human rights of such people. 

Asked about the timeframe for the promulgation of the FICA-related regulations, Dlodlo said she is not sure when Gigaba would finalise them. “He hasn’t given a clear timeframe, but consultation is under way with all stakeholders who would oversee the implementation thereof."

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