The CR17 campaign saga might not be over yet even as the public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane faces removal from office; the Financial Intelligence Centre has taken it upon itself to look into the matter. The FIC confirmed that it is monitoring the legal fight between President Ramaphosa and Public Protector Mkhwebane, and if the need arises, they will seek permission to intervene in the case.
FIC released a statement yesterday revealing that it was mandated in law to assist the public protector with information when she requested it. The statement read: “The FIC wishes to state emphatically that the information provided to the Office of the Public Protector was both obtained and disseminated lawfully in terms of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act.”
The CR17 surfaces in the media again when Peter Harris, president Ramaphosa’s lawyer wrote to the FIC questioning how and why it handed over all information related to three bank accounts linked to the campaign. The president’s legal team alleged that the FIC acted unlawfully by giving Mkhwebane two years worth of bank statements unrelated to the R500,000 donation made by Bosasa boss Gavin Watson in 2017.
However in a bid to defend its action, the FIC defended their decision to hand over the bank statements, which have become the centre of a legal dispute after it had been leaked to the media. The body said all it does is follow the money but does not have a mandate to investigate or prosecute “The FIC does not control how the legislated authorities handle the information received from the FIC during the course of their investigation.”
It is recalled that the public protector used these bank statements to base her finding that there was evidence of money laundering by the CR17 campaign; her report is however being challenged on judicial review.