Debarment Overturned

Fica Bill finally signed

It sometimes seems that the old colonial approach of “Divide and rule” was replaced in Africa by “Delay and rule”.

Almost a year after the Bill was first passed in Parliament, the President has finally signed it into law, but legal prescriptions which need to be followed may see the actual implementation delayed even further.

Add to this the budgetary limitations on the Financial Intelligence Centre, and we may still have a long wait ahead before it becomes fully functional. Then there is also the threat by the Progressive Professionals Forum (PPF) that it will challenge the legislation in the Constitutional Court on the grounds that it gives undue powers to the banking sector, in its view.

The DA’s David Maynier also pointed out that the Financial Intelligence Centre must still produce an official list of ‘domestic prominent influential persons’, their family members and known close associates. ‘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.’

Several parties raised concerns about possible delaying tactics by the new Minister of Finance. In response to this, Minister Gigaba’s spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, said the Minister had no intention of delaying implementation. ‘The parliamentary process was clearly spelt out and our team is already beginning to work on that. It has started consultations and when they were in Parliament our deputy DG … gave a very clear pathway and road map for the way forward on the Fica Bill and one of those is drawing up regulations,’ he is quoted as saying.

Other parties welcoming the signing of the legislation include the Black Business Council (BBC) – which was initially against the legislation, and the Banking Association of SA.

Parliament’s Finance Standing Committee has also welcomed the signing of the Bill, notes a report in Business Report. Committee chair Yunus Carrim said the Bill would help the country’s efforts to combat money laundering, illicit financial flows, and financing of terrorism.

‘Our country has lost over R600bn in illicit financial flows over the past 10 years. It is big businesses – not emerging black businesses – that are primarily responsible for this. It is the poor and disadvantaged who ultimately bear a disproportional burden,’ he said.

Click here to download the media statement by the presidency.


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