Members of the banking community and the sector’s regulatory and supervisory authorities are making inroads in targeting and disrupting financial crime through a financial information sharing partnership, called SAMLIT (South African Anti-Money Laundering Integrated Task Force).
SAMLIT has brought together the FIC, 22 national and international banks, the South African Reserve Bank’s Prudential Authority and Financial Surveillance Department and banking association representatives SABRIC (South African Banking Risk information Centre) and BASA (the Banking Association South Africa). SAMLIT and its achievements are captured in its first recently released, annual review report for 2020.
The banking sector finds itself at the coalface of financial transactions, coupled with this, their relationship with regulators and supervisors is geared primarily towards assisting in maintaining the integrity of the financial system which includes combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
Financial information sharing partnerships involving public and private sectors in disrupting financial crime are gaining increasing significance worldwide. As part of its work, the partnership is geared towards ensuring that knowledge on the modus operandi of financial criminals’ is shared, that institutions increase their understanding on financial crime types and that the work of SAMLIT assists law enforcement authorities in their follow through.
The partnership does this by enhancing the effective, efficient and timeous sharing of information with a view to generating actionable reported information from reporting entities. This improves the analytical capabilities of the FIC and related fusion working groups,
PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP APPROACH TO FIGHTING FINANCIAL CRIME
enabling the FIC to issue actionable financial intelligence that helps law enforcement in their investigations and applications for asset forfeiture, and criminal prosecutions.
SAMLIT has established expert working groups (EWGs), for example, that focus on specific types of financial crime vulnerabilities, threats and risk trends, as identified by SAMLIT members. EWGs conduct research, gather information and analyse local and international financial crime trends. They bring this information back to SAMLIT through typologies and solutions which are shared with banking, public sector regulatory and supervisory body partners and law enforcement authorities.
Similarly, tactical operations groups look at priority financial crime types and identify tactical approaches on how to deal with these. Their focus is strategic intelligence sharing on specific financial crime threats.
In the report, Adv Xolisile Khanyile, FIC’s Director and chair of the SAMLIT steering committee, said: “The banking sector is critical to the South African economy as it provides not only financial services, but also stability and viability.”
A central FIC regulatory requirement for the banking sector is reporting on suspicious and unusual transactions and key to the financial information sharing partnership was to ensure that banks continue to improve the quality of the reports by generating actionable regulatory reports when submitting to the FIC.
Adv Khanyile said: “Banks need to provide detailed, high quality, actionable and information- rich regulatory reports for analysis, which in turn can be speedily converted by the FIC into actionable financial intelligence that adds value as it can be readily applied by law enforcement authorities in their investigations and applications for asset forfeiture.
“The intelligence needs to add value in the investigations, prosecutions and forfeiture of proceeds of financial crime and also assist in the detection and disruption of crimes that have not come to the attention of the police.”
Through its work and collective focus, SAMLIT intends increasing joint understanding of the complex nature of financial crime and the speed and sophistication with which they are executed. The information SAMLIT provides to law enforcement is intended to assist in tangible delivery in the disruption of financial crime.