FIC blocks R149m in suspicious funds
The Financial Intelligence Centre blocked R149m in suspected proceeds of crime in 2016 and referred 1,525 matters to law enforcement agencies for investigation.
The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) blocked suspected proceeds of crime amounting to R149m in 2016 and referred 1,525 matters to law enforcement agencies for investigation.
The organisation received 358,412 reports about suspicious and unusual transactions in 2016-17, which was up from the 180,363 in 2015-16.
This was out of the more than 5-million financial transaction reports received from the 3,326 accountable and reporting institutions that are legally obliged to submit reports to the centre.
This emerged from the report for 2016-17 of outgoing director Murray Michell tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.
Michell said that most of the R149m blocked as suspected proceeds of crime was subsequently preserved by the Asset Forfeiture Unit. The blocking of funds was at the request of third parties, with fewer requests being received in 2017 than expected, Michell said.
The FIC also contributed to 26 judicial actions.
The FIC is central in safeguarding the integrity of SA’s financial system and preventing it from being abused. It identifies funds generated from crime and combats money laundering and terror financing.
“Each year, FIC intelligence products help identify a range of suspected criminal activities, from illegal diamond trading to human trafficking,” said Michell, who will be leaving the position at the end of 2017.
Michell highlighted the importance of the FIC Amendment Act for bringing SA’s legislative regime in line with requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which sets global standards for the combating of money laundering and terror financing.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has laid down time frames for implementation of sections of the amendment act.
Delays in implementing FATF standards would lead to “increased peer pressure in the form of a public declaration” that SA was “not sufficiently complying with international standards and the possibility of suspension from FATF”. This would have “severe consequences significantly affecting” SA’s ability to access the global financial system and hampering investment.
WE WILL BE EXPECTED TO DEMONSTRATE THE REAL-WORLD IMPACT OF NEW MEASURES
Delayed implementation of the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Act would affect SA’s performance in the next round of FATF mutual evaluations, Michell said.
“The country is likely to be evaluated in the second half of 2019 and we will be expected to demonstrate the real-world impact of the measures put in place through the amended legislation. The less time there is to put the measures in place, the less impact we will be able to demonstrate. This could put SA in a position where it is always a step behind global standards.”