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Mosebenzi Zwane insists Cabinet backed proposals

MINERAL Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane still insists he was not speaking in his personal capacity when he issued a statement calling for President Jacob Zuma to set up a commission of inquiry into banks’ conduct when they closed the Gupta family’s accounts.

Zwane, in a reply to a parliamentary question by DA MP David Maynier, said four of the five recommendations in the controversial September 1 statement were approved by the Cabinet.

One of the recommendations was “to consider the current Financial Intelligence Centre Act and the Prevention of Combating of Corrupt Activities Act regarding the relevant reporting structures set out therein”.

At the time, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said that he learnt about the statement in the media and the Presidency said Zwane was speaking in his personal capacity, not for the government.

This comes as Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says the amendments to the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, unanimously adopted by Parliament, are important to ensure SA’s financial system is of a world standard to fight money laundering and terror financing.

The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) plays a “pivotal role” in keeping SA’s financial system secure, the minister says in his foreword to the centre’s 2015-16 report tabled on Wednesday.

His comments align with those expressed on Tuesday by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and civil society groups that have called on Zuma to sign the bill into law. Zuma has had the bill for several months.

The Progressive Professionals Forum has petitioned him to reject the bill on constitutional grounds. The forum says it gives far too much power to banks and other accountable institutions.

The FIC annual report noted that 3,531 accountable and reporting institutions — which include banks, attorneys, estate agents, insurance companies, casinos and motor dealers — submitted financial transaction reports to the centre during the year, up from 3,236 a year earlier. Most reports came from the large banks. There were 34,255 institutions registered.

The centre received reports of 180,363 suspicious transactions and more than 9-million reports of transactions above the threshold of R25,000. It blocked R185m of suspected proceeds of crime, assisted with 1,979 national and international criminal investigations and contributed to 29 judicial actions.

READ MORE: Presidency denies government wants inquiry into banks’ actions against the Guptas

“FIC intelligence products helped identify a range of suspected criminal activities including money laundering (746 reports), corruption (515 reports) and fraud (470 reports),” the report noted.

The report said the centre paid particular attention to high-value property transactions in upmarket areas. “One of the methods used to ‘clean’ the proceeds of crime is to buy and sell immovable property. This makes estate agents vulnerable to abuse by money launderers. Estate agents are the second-largest group of FIC-registered institutions with 9,055 agencies registered in 2015-16,” it said.

Motor vehicle dealers were also deemed vulnerable to money launderers because they dealt with large amounts of cash and high-value goods.

Gambling institutions such as casinos were another high-risk category as they dealt with vast sums of cash every day.

CASH BUSINESS: Casinos are among the high-risk institutions the Financial Intelligence Centre deems vulnerable to money launderers.

MINERAL Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane still insists he was not speaking in his personal capacity when he issued a statement calling for President Jacob Zuma to set up a commission of inquiry into banks’ conduct when they closed the Gupta family’s accounts.

Zwane, in a reply to a parliamentary question by DA MP David Maynier, said four of the five recommendations in the controversial September 1 statement were approved by the Cabinet.

One of the recommendations was “to consider the current Financial Intelligence Centre Act and the Prevention of Combating of Corrupt Activities Act regarding the relevant reporting structures set out therein”.

At the time, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said that he learnt about the statement in the media and the Presidency said Zwane was speaking in his personal capacity, not for the government.

This comes as Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says the amendments to the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, unanimously adopted by Parliament, are important to ensure SA’s financial system is of a world standard to fight money laundering and terror financing.

The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) plays a “pivotal role” in keeping SA’s financial system secure, the minister says in his foreword to the centre’s 2015-16 report tabled on Wednesday.

His comments align with those expressed on Tuesday by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and civil society groups that have called on Zuma to sign the bill into law. Zuma has had the bill for several months.

The Progressive Professionals Forum has petitioned him to reject the bill on constitutional grounds. The forum says it gives far too much power to banks and other accountable institutions.

The FIC annual report noted that 3,531 accountable and reporting institutions — which include banks, attorneys, estate agents, insurance companies, casinos and motor dealers — submitted financial transaction reports to the centre during the year, up from 3,236 a year earlier. Most reports came from the large banks. There were 34,255 institutions registered.

The centre received reports of 180,363 suspicious transactions and more than 9-million reports of transactions above the threshold of R25,000. It blocked R185m of suspected proceeds of crime, assisted with 1,979 national and international criminal investigations and contributed to 29 judicial actions.

READ MORE: Presidency denies government wants inquiry into banks’ actions against the Guptas

“FIC intelligence products helped identify a range of suspected criminal activities including money laundering (746 reports), corruption (515 reports) and fraud (470 reports),” the report noted.

The report said the centre paid particular attention to high-value property transactions in upmarket areas. “One of the methods used to ‘clean’ the proceeds of crime is to buy and sell immovable property. This makes estate agents vulnerable to abuse by money launderers. Estate agents are the second-largest group of FIC-registered institutions with 9,055 agencies registered in 2015-16,” it said.

Motor vehicle dealers were also deemed vulnerable to money launderers because they dealt with large amounts of cash and high-value goods.

Gambling institutions such as casinos were another high-risk category as they dealt with vast sums of cash every day.

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