Finishing touches to Fica
LINDA ENSOR | 2017-02-02 06:45:21.0
Banking Association of SA managing director Cas Coovadia. Photo file.
The national Treasury has proposed amendments to the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Bill that will tighten restrictions on warrantless searches.
The proposed amendments are based on the legal opinions and public submissions made during the public hearings on the bill held by parliament’s finance committee last week.
Banking Association of SA managing director Cas Coovadia said he approved the proposed amendments and hoped there would be no further delays in getting the bill promulgated.
President Jacob Zuma referred the bill back to parliament last year because of his concern about the constitutionality of its provision for warrantless searches.
The amendments presented by the Treasury yesterday specify that inspections can be conducted only to check compliance with provisions of the act or any order, determination or directive made in terms of the act.
Searches with a warrant of a private residence or unlicensed business will be allowed only if the premises are being used for business purposes.
Permission from senior members of the Financial Intelligence Centre will have to be obtained before the warrant is applied for.
With regard to warrantless searches, these can take place only inside business hours or as close to those as circumstances permit.
Strict regard will have to be paid to decency and good order, including limiting the inspection to that which is reasonably required for the inspection purposes.
The inspection will have to be conducted “discreetly and with due decorum”.
Treasury deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat said the proposed amendments clarified that the enforcement allowed under the act would be limited to administrative enforcement.
“The Financial Intelligence Centre and inspectors do not have investigative or criminal powers, which can only be done by SAPS and NPA ,” Momoniat said.
The act did not itself criminalise money-laundering, racketeering and terrorism financing, which were addressed by other laws.
It dealt only with the laundering of the proceeds of crime, he said.
Momoniat dismissed the concerns that the impact of the amendments to the bill would be felt mainly by black businesses.
He said there was no evidence to support this.
“The FIC must act against anyone breaking the law,” Momoniat stressed.