South African lawmakers on Tuesday approved an anti-money-laundering bill that will increase scrutiny of the bank accounts of “politically exposed people”, three months after President Jacob Zuma sent it back to parliament over concerns of its constitutionality.
The country’s 400-member national assembly voted across party lines to have the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment (FICA) bill signed into law by Zuma, practically unchanged from when parliament first sent it to the president in May.
The bill is meant to bolster the fight against global financial crime by making it easier to identify ultimate owners of companies and accounts – including those of “domestic prominent influential persons.
At the time, South Africa was under pressure to meet international requirements to pass the corruption regulations, but has since been granted additional time by the inter-governmental body the Financial Action Task Force.
The bill is also required for local banks to remain part of the international banking system.
Furore around the bill and its rejection came on the back of a report by constitutionally mandated anti-corruption watchdog alleging that the wealthy Gupta family wielded undue influence over Zuma, his cabinet and state-owned companies.
Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrong doing and said they would challenge the report in court.