The purpose of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, No 38 of 2001 (“FICA”) is to root out money laundering and the financing of terrorism (“MLFT,”) which places in jeopardy the economy and constitutional order of any country.

FICA seeks to fulfil this purpose by imposing certain obligations on Accountable Institutions, which are recognised as potential vehicles for financial malfeasance. These obligations regulate the manner in which Accountable Institutions handle money and property in the course of their business dealings with Clients and Prospective Clients. Attorney Firms are one of 16 (sixteen) categories of Accountable Institution falling within the ambit of FICA.

Our firm has designed and implemented a Risk Management and Compliance Policy (“RMCP”), which is a document setting out how we will:

(a) collect information about Clients;
(b) keep records of its Clients’ Transactions, and
(c) report information to the relevant authorities in certain circumstances,

The RMCP is the successor to what were known as the “internal rules” before FICA was amended by the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Act, No 1 of 2017.

Underpinning the RMCP is the “risk-based approach”, in terms of which an Accountable Institution is afforded the discretion to evaluate whether, and the extent to which, each of its Clients introduces MLFT risk to the Firm.

The RMCP and, indeed, FICA itself, exist within the wider context of –

South Africa’s status as an FATF Member State; and
the Firm’s own commitment to playing its part in protecting South Africa’s financial system and constitutional democracy, by effectively identifying and managing the MLFT risks to which the Firm is exposed, and by co-operating with the relevant authorities whenever this is call for.