Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SOWETAN
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SOWETAN

The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) says the information it provided to the public protector in relation to President Cyril Ramaphosa's ANC presidential campaign was obtained and disseminated lawfully.

This comes after Ramaphosa accused the financial intelligence unit of unlawfully leaking bank account statements linked to his 2017 election campaign, which is at the centre of his legal dispute with public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

The leaked statements have provided ammunition to Ramaphosa's political opponents and have fuelled calls for closer scrutiny of funding for internal party contests.

Ramaphosa’s lawyers suggested that the FIC provided confidential bank records to Mkhwebane without having a legal basis to do so, and have questioned why it provided information beyond what she had asked for.

The controversy centres on a R500,000 donation from corruption-accused Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson, who died in a car crash early last week.

The FIC is mandated to identify the proceeds of crime, combat money-laundering and fight terrorism financing through the analysis of financial data and provision of financial intelligence to the authorities.

The intelligence centre said on Thursday that it did not generally comment on the assistance it provided to specific institutions. But it believed it had a duty to correct inaccurate reporting and misinterpretation of its mandate in the public domain.

“These inaccuracies, if left uncorrected, can potentially harm the reputation of the FIC and create the impression that it acts pursuant to forces other than the law,” it said.

The FIC said it responded to requests for information from legislated authorities and disseminated financial intelligence reports to them where necessary.

In the 2017/2018 financial year, it disseminated 1,470 proactive financial intelligence reports (referrals) and responded to 2,243 requests for information.

It said in terms of section 40 of the FIC Act, legislated authorities include the National Prosecuting Authority, the office of the public protector, the State Security Agency, the intelligence division of the SA National Defence Force, the SA Revenue Service, the Special Investigating Unit and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate and investigating authorities in the countries.

The FIC said its mandate did not extend to investigation and prosecution.

The intelligence centre said it was monitoring the pending litigation between Ramaphosa and the public protector closely, and should there be a need, it would seek permission to intervene solely for the purposes of clarifying its mandate and to assist the court to ensure that there is no misleading of the court.

Ramaphosa’s lawyers have asked Pretoria high court deputy judge-president Aubrey Ledwaba to seal the FIC’s report on the ANC president’s election campaign accounts, on the basis that the report contains information that is “confidential and relates to the personal affairs of the individuals mentioned in those documents”.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za