Masutha's anti-money laundering council a power grab bid - DA

Justice Minister Michael Masutha says he’s talking to new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba about ensuring an anti-money laundering council comes into being.

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

CAPE TOWN - National prosecutions head Shaun Abrahams says South Africa's fight against money laundering and illicit outflows of capital has suffered because previous finance ministers did not set up a body provided for by a previous version of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha says this was a "fundamental mistake" and that he’s talking to new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba about ensuring an anti-money laundering council comes into being.

The new Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Act, signed by President Jacob Zuma last month, but yet to be promulgated, does not provide for such a body.

The Democratic Alliance has meanwhile weighed in on the issue.

The anti-money laundering council was supposed to comprise not only Treasury and reserve bank officials but also police and state security but although provided for since 2002, it has never formally been constituted.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha and NPA head Shaun Abrahams want such a body in place, although the new Fica law doesn’t provide for one.

The DA’s David Maynier: "What the minister is trying to do, is to dilute Treasury control over the Financial Intelligence Centre and make it accountable to a larger body of ministers including ministers in the security cluster. And ultimately it sounds to me like a power grab by the security cluster in Cabinet."

Maynier says that implementing the crucial legislation is likely to be delayed. It provides for extra scrutiny of people seen as prominent influential persons, including politically connected business people, their families and associates.