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SARB fines country’s big banks

South African Reserve Bank

South African Reserve Bank

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has fined the country’s big four banks R125 million collectively, it said on Wednesday.

“In terms of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA), the SARB is mandated to supervise and enforce banks’ compliance with FICA to ensure that the necessary anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism controls are in place.

“Flowing from these responsibilities, the inspections were conducted to assess whether the appropriate measures were in place to ensure compliance with the relevant provisions of FICA.

“Stemming from the findings of the inspections, the SARB has imposed administrative sanctions,” said the central bank.

The sanctions were imposed on First Rand, Absa, Nedbank and Standard Bank following inspections at the banks by the SARB.

“The administrative sanctions are not an indication that the banks in question have in any way facilitated transactions involving money laundering and the financing of terrorism,” noted the SARB.

Both FirstRand and Absa were directed to take remedial action to address deficiencies in identifying and verifying customers’ details, maintaining customer and transactional records as prescribed. Absa, which was fined R10 million, was also instructed to take remedial action of the management and processing of potential suspicious and unusual transactions.

FirstRand received a penalty of R30 million and was instructed to take remedial action on the governance processes for making amendments to automated suspicious and unusual transaction monitoring and reporting systems.

Nedbank received a financial penalty of R25 million and was told to address deficiencies in identifying and verifying customers’ details, and controls and systems relating to the detection of property associated with terrorists and related activities.

The central bank fined Standard Bank R60 million. Standard Bank was directed to take remedial action to address deficiencies in maintaining customer and transactional records as prescribed, as well as for failing to report all cash transactions above R24 999.99 to the Financial Intelligence Centre as well as the systems, processes and other resources necessary for detecting and reporting suspicious and unusual transactions.

Each bank must pay the financial penalty imposed into the Criminal Assets Recovery Account as required by FICA.

“All the banks are co-operating and working with the SARB to address the identified compliance deficiencies and control weaknesses, and have undertaken to remediate the identified shortcomings,” said SARB head of group strategy and strategy, Hlengani Mathebula. –

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