As published on ewn.co.za, Tuesday 18 October, 2022.
Civil society groups are calling for more access to company ownership information in new legislation aimed at preventing the country from being greylisted.
Parliament is currently considering amendments to laws aimed at clamping down on money laundering and terrorism financing.
The aim is to be in line with requirements of global watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
But there are still many concerns to iron out, including what information will be publicly available.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Tuesday transparency is a two-way street and it can’t only be government required to play open cards.
Cosatu’s parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks said the new legislation had to be clear about beneficial ownership.
“We must require the natural persons details to be disclosed at all times so we know the real owners of a company or trust etc. Let’s know who the warm bodies who own these companies are, and not allow anyone to hide behind issues.”
These sentiments have been echoed by Corruption Watch's Caroline James who said South Africa should go beyond the minimum requirements of the FATF.
“We are disappointed to see there isn’t greater recognition of the need for public access to the information that’s dealt with in this bill. We have to be focusing on the need for transparency and accountability.”
Treasury is proposing that the information contained in beneficial ownership registers be accessible to certain categories of users, through a tiered system.
Exactly what information will be available is still to be determined in regulations to the act.