President Zuma signs the FICA Bill

Pretoria � President Jacob Zuma has signed the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment (FICA) Act, which amends the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, 2001.

The 2001 Act and other related Acts aim to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The President is now satisfied that the Act addresses the constitutional concerns he had raised about warrantless searches.

These amendments to the Financial Intelligence Amendment Act further strengthen the transparency and integrity of the South African financial system in its objectives to combat financial crimes, which include tax evasion, money laundering and the financing of terrorism and illicit financial flows.

The amendments also make it harder for persons who are involved in illegitimate activities or tax evasion to hide behind legal entities like shell companies and trusts, the Presidency said in a statement.

Measures to strengthen anti-money laundering and the combating of terrorist financing regulatory framework in the Amendment Act include-

Requiring the identification of beneficial owners to prevent natural persons from misusing legal entities for nefarious purposes like evading tax;

Enhancing the customer due diligence requirements that will ensure that entities fully understand the nature and potential risk posed by their customers;

Providing for the adoption of a risk based approach in the identification and assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing risks, and assist in making customer compliance easier;

providing for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions relating to the freezing of assets relating to persons associated with terrorism;

Safeguarding information in line with the Protection of Personal Information;

Providing for inspection powers for regulatory compliance purposes in accordance with the Constitution; and

Enhancing certain administrative and enforcement mechanisms.

The Amendment Act sends a strong message about South Africa’s commitment to combating financial crime, protecting the integrity of our financial system and our tax base, and remaining part of the global financial system.

They further demonstrate South Africa’s membership commitments to the Financial Action Task Force and United Nations, the Presidency said.

Source: South African Government News Agency