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. 

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Ed Cropley 2
Guest Author
Advertising

Coalition politics and law: The fight over Tshwane

With coalition politics on the rise, particularly in local government, this kind of court case is likely to become more common

High court declares Dudu Myeni delinquent

Disgraced former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni has been declared a delinquent director by the...

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread
Advertising

Press Releases

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday