FICA bill battle is far from over

President Jacob Zuma.
President Jacob Zuma.

Cape Town - The Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment (FICA) bill has finally been signed into law, but the focus now turns to the careful monitoring of its implementation.

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).

READ: What is the FIC Bill all about?

President Jacob Zuma signed the bill into law as the clock was ticking on a June deadline by the FATF. The announcement of the signing also comes days ahead of Zuma leading a delegation to the World Economic Forum in Durban from 3 to 5 May.

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC), which had given Zuma until May 5 to pass the bill or face legal action in the Constitutional Court, said the implementation of the legislation must be monitored.

"We will seek to see where the weaknesses and gaps are, where there is a lack of political will to assist those agencies to do their work, we will call those out as we do in other areas of our work," CASAC executive secretary Lawson Naidoo told eNCA in a interview.

READ: SA faces dire consequences if FIC Bill not signed - Treasury

The DA said in a statement that the battle with the FIC law is far from over. DA MP and spokesperson on finance David Maynier said Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba may delay the implementation of the bill.

He explained that implementation of the legislation will commence on a date to be determined by the minister and published in the Government Gazette.

Maynier also said that the Financial Intelligence Centre must, for example, still produce an official list of “domestic prominent influential persons” and of family members and known close associates of “domestic prominent influential persons”.

"This will be a massive task because the list of 'domestic prominent influential persons' includes, for example, senior executives, as well as family members and close associates of senior executives, of all companies supplying goods and services above a threshold amount, which must be determined by the minister and published in the Government Gazette," he said.

"The minister will no doubt be under political pressure to delay the implementation of the legislation to protect his political master’s most important clients, the Guptas," Maynier claimed.

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