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Submit info for Fica: Sabric

Mar 25 2015 20:30

Johannesburg - People should update their personal details with their individual banks so that they comply with the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (Fica), the SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) said on Wednesday.

"Government introduced Fica to combat financial crimes such as money laundering, tax evasion and terrorist financing activities," CEO Kalyani Pillay said in a statement.

Simultaneously, Fica was introduced to protect bank customers from fraud, money laundering and similar crimes.

Pillay said legal compliance was an ongoing process and not merely a once-off initiative.

The law required institutions to regularly test and ensure that they retained the correct customer information.

"The banks are not only doing this for compliance purposes, but also to minimise customers’ exposure to bank crimes such as fraud, identity theft and cybercrime," she said.

"Accurate information about customer identities is one of the means that help banks to provide financial services responsibly and securely."

For Sabric, safer banking practices were a priority and adhering to Fica would contribute significantly towards achieving this.

It was important for customers to take their latest "know your customer" (KYC) documents to their banks to ensure Fica compliance.

These documents included, among others, identity documents, proof of address, and proof of authority, should a person be acting on behalf of another in the banking relationship.

Internationally, governments had agreed to fight organised crime and terrorism, and many countries have passed laws that demonstrated their commitment to this effort.

"South Africa is equally committed to ensure that its laws combating money laundering, organised crime and terrorism remain in line with international best-practice," she said.

Banks were compelled under law to enforce strict measures when they did not have accurate and up-to-date information about their customers, with such measures possibly including the freezing of a customer’s account.

"The freezing of bank accounts is the last resort banks wish to undertake, and therefore customers are urged to provide the necessary legally required KYC documentation, not older than three months, to their respective banks without delay," said Pillay.

Sabric reminded customers to heed communications from their banks to submit the required information, including updated contact details to ensure Fica compliance and for their own protection.

If a bank customer was not certain of their Fica status, they should contact their account or relationship manager to find out.

"Collectively, we can make a difference to ensuring a safer and more secure financial sector and South Africa," Pillay said.

The initiative was also supported by the SA Reserve Bank and the Financial Intelligence Centre.

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