JUDGMENT has been reserved in the Financial Intelligence Centre’s (FIC’s) application for interlocutory (interim) relief in a matter concerning allegations of unfair discrimination by banks in South Africa.
The complainants in the matter, including Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, Independent Media and 85 others, sought to compel the FIC to take steps to stop the unfair discrimination and harassment against them by major banks in the country.
They also seek a declaration that any regulatory interference by regulatory authorities in their private affairs that is not undertaken in good faith is unlawful and unconstitutional.
This, as the banks, including Standard Bank, Absa Bank, FNB and Nedbank, intend to close the bank accounts of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings and other companies.
In his answering affidavit to the FICs interlocutory application, Sekunjalo Investment Holdings Chairman Dr Iqbal Survé said the FIC had a direct and substantial interest in the matter.
“The main objective of the FIC is to assist in the identification of the proceeds of unlawful activities and the combating of money laundering activities. Amongst the key functions of the FIC relevant to this matter is the procession, analysis and interpretation of information disclosed to it, and obtained by it.
“Furthermore, the FIC, as part of its functions must monitor and give guidance to accountable institutions and other persons regarding the performance by them of their duties.”
In his founding affidavit, executive manager for compliance and prevention at the FIC, Christopher Malan, said the FIC had no direct or substantial interest in the subject matter of the main equality and parallel applications.
Executive manager for Legal and Policy at the FIC, Pieter Smit, said: “I submit that the joinder of the FIC should be struck out, that the application should be dismissed insofar as it relates to the FIC, and that the complainants should be ordered jointly and severally to pay the costs, the one paying, the other to be absolved.”