South Africa needs six months to demonstrate the effectiveness of two new laws that aim to curb money laundering and financing of terrorism as it seeks a quick exit from a global financial watchdog’s dirty money watch-list, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa signed the legislation into effect in December to address shortcomings in controls that the Financial Action Task Force flagged.
Despite this, the watchdog added South Africa to its so-called grey list of countries that are subjected to increased monitoring, saying it still wasn’t doing enough to curb the illicit financial flows.
“It is our intention that we are removed from that grey list, and we are working very hard toward it,” the president told lawmakers in Cape Town on Thursday.
“It is estimated that the country needs at least six months to demonstrate whether the recent amendments adopted by parliament are effective.”
Other nations on the grey list include Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
Ramaphosa said the National Prosecuting Authority and a special police investigating unit known as the Hawks are also working hard to clamp down on financial crime and had been given additional funds to enable them to recruit more personnel.
“They have also been involved in the recovery of money that has been lost. The money that was illegally paid was recovered,” he said. “Progress is being recorded, and a number of prosecutions are also underway.”
The National Treasury is studying how Mauritius and other nations managed to get themselves removed from the grey list, and said it would ask the FATF to review its status in its June plenary session.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has previously said the country could exit the list by mid-2024.