Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

President Jacob Zuma sends money-laundering bill back to parliament

President Jacob Zuma sent an anti-money-laundering bill that would have increased scrutiny of the bank accounts of “prominent individuals”, including himself, back to parliament on Tuesday, saying it might not be constitutional.

In a statement, Zuma’s office said the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment (FICA) bill was “very important and pressing” but it was concerned about some of its aspects, particularly those relating to “warrant-less searches”.

The bill, which is meant to bolster the fight against global financial crime by making it easier to identify ultimate owners of companies and accounts – including those of “domestic prominent influential persons” – was passed by parliament in May.

READ MORE: Revisionist accounting to the rescue for Gupta-owned Oakbay

That left Zuma’s signature as the final hurdle to it being signed into law. In its definition of “influential person”, the FICA bill specified the president and deputy president, ministers, provincial premiers, judges and generals.

At a meeting with Zuma in September, the Black Business Council (BBC), a lobby group trying to boost black ownership of the economy, urged him not to sign the bill.

Its reasons were not made clear at the time although South African media speculated that its stance might be related to a fight between the Treasury, which sponsored the legislation, and the Guptas, a family of controversial businessmen close to Zuma.

South Africa’s leading four banks have severed their ties with the Guptas over the last year. They have refused to make public their reasons but analysts say their action was probably prompted by concerns about reputational risk.

READ MORE: Oakbay asks court to compel FIC to provide details on 72 ‘suspicious’ transactions

A spokesman for the BBC did not respond to email or telephone requests for comment. Zuma’s spokesman denied any motive on Zuma’s part other than his desire to ensure all laws he signed were constitutional.

The Guptas have also denied any wrongdoing or backroom lobbying.

Cas Coovadia, managing director of the Banking Association of South Africa, said the bill was important for the global standing and integrity of South Africa’s banking system, and urged parliament to pass it again as quickly as possible.

“We will deal with it in parliament again if need be,” he said. “We would like to expedite this.”

The bill will now pass back to the parliamentary committee that drafted it, although it is not yet clear whether they will make changes. 

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Ed Cropley 2
Guest Author

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Life Esidimeni inquest postponed until August 30

The lawyer for the bereaved families argued that Dr Makgabo Manamela’s requests for postponements have a negative impact on the families of the deceased who seek closure

RECAP: Mbeki tells ANC that land without compensation goes against...

‘This would be a very serious disincentive to investment,’ says Thabo Mbeki in a document arguing that the ANC should not proceed with the Constitutional amendment of section 25

More top stories

Zambia should commit to tackling toxic lead mine’s legacy

Residents of Kabwe have been poisoned for decades and now UN experts have called for an urgent clean-up

Government proclaims 27 October for local elections, but supports...

The IEC has accepted former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke’s recommendation to postpone the vote to February, but still needs Constitutional Court approval to do so

ANC Free State endorses three names for Mangaung mayor

The three candidates the province has put forward are said to be Ramaphosa supporters, who will further alienate Magashule from his power base

ANC’s provincial executive committee endorses three candidates for Joburg mayor...

Sources say that the PEC gave the nod to the three names put forward by the Johannesburg regional executive committee
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×