Thursday, October 29, 2020

South Africa: Financial Intelligence found no evidence of money laundering in President Ramaphosa fundraising campaign

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The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) did not find any evidence of money laundering in the bank accounts linked to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential campaign.

This was revealed in their court application to join Ramaphosa’s judicial review of the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report in which she made adverse findings against the president.

In her report released early this year, Mkhwebane said that over and above her findings that the president deliberately misled parliament when responding to a question about a R500,000 donation made to the campaign, there was prima facie evidence of money laundering which must be further investigated.

An affidavit filed in the Pretoria High Court today by FIC director Xolisile Khanyile, the FIC has revealed that their analysis of the bank account could not find any traces of money laundering.

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Khanyile said that their analyst, Henry Muller met with an official from the public protector’s office in who was taken through FIC’s analysis of the financial records.

“At that meeting [Rodney] Mataboge specifically asked for confirmation on whether or not evidence of money laundering was found. Muller informed him that he could find no indication of money laundering as he could not identify any predicate offence from which the monies could have been proceeds of,” said Khanyile.

Khanyile further states in the affidavit that conclusions they made were based on their analysis that the R500,000 in question “came from sources that appeared to be lawful”.

The financial records, which have been leaked to the public, have been at a centre of a dispute between the president, public protector’s office and FIC.

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Ramaphosa’s lawyers in August sent a letter to the FIC accusing them of acting unlawfully by obtaining the campaign’s banking records, unrelated to Mkhwebane’s investigation, from the banks and providing them to her office.

The FIC in response said they believed that Mkhwebane, as per her request for the information in “confirming source” of a “suspected trail of R500,000” and “where it ended”, was investigating possible unlawful activity on the accounts.

“In terms of the FIC Act, the contraventions of these laws constitute unlawful activity. In this case, the alleged contravention of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act involved a financial transaction (R500 000) hence the involvement of the FIC,” said Khanyisile.

Ramaphosa’s attorneys wrote another letter in September asking FIC to disclose if they believed there was any unlawful activity on the accounts.

The FIC have now denied any wrongdoing in providing Mkhwebane with those financial records and basically argue that they could not have anticipated that the information would be “released into the public domain” as they made it clear that the information was merely for investigation purposes.

“These facts, in my respectful submission, demonstrate that there was nothing unlawful in the conduct of the FIC which, has at all times acted within the law, in good faith and with strict objectivity and neutrality,” said Khanyile.

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