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In order to be legally compliant, Banks have to hold the latest and most accurate information about all their customers in compliance with the Financial Intelligence Centre Act 38 of 2001 (FICA). Internationally, governments have agreed to fight organised crime and terrorism, and many countries have passed laws that demonstrate their commitment to this effort. South Africa is equally committed to ensure that its laws to combat money laundering, organised crime, terrorism and tax evasion remain in line with international best-practice. FICA was therefore introduced by the South African Government to combat these crimes and to simultaneously protect bank customers from fraud and similar crimes.

Accurate information about customer identities is also one of the ways to enable banks to help banks provide financial services responsibly and securely, and this legal compliance is not merely a once-off initiative but an ongoing process. The law requires institutions to regularly test to ensure that they retain 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.

Banks are compelled, under law, to enforce strict measures if they do not have accurate and up-to-date information about their customers. Such measures could include the freezing of a customer’s account. If a bank customer is not certain of their FICA status, they should contact their account or relationship manager to find out.

  • Bank customers are therefore urged to take their latest “Know Your Customer” (KYC) documents to their banks to ensure FICA compliance.
  • These documents include, among others, identity documents, proof of address (for example a utility bill) and proof of authority (should a person be acting on behalf of another in the banking relationship).

For more information visit http://www.fic.gov.za/ or contact your bank directly.