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Former finance ministers blamed for money laundering, illicit financial flows

At issue is the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Act, which was signed into law by President Jacob Zuma at the end of last month.

FILE: Justice Minister Michael Masutha. Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN – Former finance ministers, including Pravin Gordhan, have come under fire from both Justice Minister Michael Masutha and National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) head Shaun Abrahams at Parliament.

At issue is the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Act, which was signed into law by President Jacob Zuma at the end of last month.

A previous version of the law which has yet to be promulgated, provided in 2002 for an anti-money laundering council, made up of Treasury, Financial Intelligence Centre and Reserve Bank officials as well as justice, state security, police and financial sector representatives.

In what Masutha's labelled a "fundamental mistake" the council was never set up.

Abrahams has claimed that South Africa's problems with money laundering and illicit financial flows could have been better combated if the council was in place.

The minister says he’s talking to Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to ensure that regulations that will give effect to the new Financial Intelligence Centre Act will allow for an anti-money laundering council.

“That was a fundamental mistake. The onus was on the ministers of finance during the entire period of 15 years when Fica existed to have caused that council to come to life.”

NPA head Shaun Abrahams also weighed in.

“The challenges we face today as a country in our ability to combat money laundering, illicit financial flows and terror financing is a direct result – and I say this with respect – of various finance ministers.”

Abrahams says the Financial Intelligence Centre has never been held accountable and the council would serve that purpose.

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