SA companies will need to respond quickly to mitigate the risks stemming from this development.
Global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has placed South Africa on its so-called ‘grey’ list, adding South Africa to a group of jurisdictions under increased FATF monitoring and meaning that the country has committed to swiftly resolve the identified strategic deficiencies within agreed timeframes.
This has important implications for South African companies doing business with international counterparties.
Prior to this announcement, PwC commented that South Africa had made considerable progress towards resolving the deficiencies in its legal framework and implementation processes since it was informed in October 2021 of the risk that it could be greylisted.
South African authorities should be commended for the efforts they have made around regulatory reform that aimed to avert being greylisted The speed at which they were able to facilitate this is noteworthy.
However, FATF has decided that the response has been insufficient, and will now work with authorities to address the lingering deficiencies. This means that South African companies will need to respond quickly to mitigate the risks stemming from this development.
The impact of being greylisted
For example, greylisting could increase the cost of raising finance and trading with global counterparties.
Businesses and non-governmental organisations will face additional requirements around sources of funding which are likely to increase costs and result in delayed transactional execution, while local banks are likely to be required to implement increased customer screening requirements.
For private companies in South Africa, responding to the greylisting will require context-specific solutions depending on the broader impact it will have on their plans around aspects—such as strategic expansions, capital raising, and any general increased cost of doing business.
Where local companies have been pulled into the scope of the regulatory requirements, these entities will have to assess the specific impacts and ensure that they take steps to enhance their current control environments and frameworks to address their new regulatory expectations.
South African companies operating as financial intermediaries across jurisdictions may be asked to undertake independent risk assessments to enable their international counterparties to gain assurance that their controls and frameworks are aligned with global standards and to prevent such counterparties from exiting these relationships.
However, it is challenging to estimate the potential impact of greylisting on the overall economy.
South Africa is a bit of an anomaly compared to previously greylisted countries. It has a more globally-integrated financial system, with a more open economy and with greater foreign investor participation than other greylisted countries’ economies.
In other jurisdictions, we have seen diverse impacts on businesses including foreign investments suspended or deferred, as well as increased transactional, administration, compliance, and auditing costs associated with enhanced levels of monitoring.
WRITTEN BY KERIN WOOD
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