Financial institutions which were not in compliance with the Financial Intelligence Act can breath a sigh of relief - for now - as the compliance date was extended from 4 May 2012 to 5 October 2013.
The new extension date, although not yet official, gives accountable institutions plenty of time to verify their clients' accounts and comply with the Act.
The Financial Intelligence Act (Act No 3 of 2007) came into operation on 5 May 2009. All accountable institutions as highlighted in the Act, were given three years from the date on which the Act came into operation to identify the clients they already had on their books at that date. All clients belonging to any accountable institutions should register and be identified with their respective institutions by providing their identification and proof of income in order for the institutions to obtain certain information in respect of their clients and keep a record of it.
According to Bank of Namibia, failure to provide documents will result in compulsory restriction of accounts. This means that accountable institutions are not allowed to carry on a business relationship with a client that has not been "identified" in terms of the Act. The three-year period ran out on 4 May 2012.
Ndangi Katoma, Bank of Namibia's director: Department of Strategic Communications and Financial Sector Development, said that as a result of difficulties experienced by accountable institutions in finalising the registration process, a recommendation was made by the Bank of Namibia to the Ministry of Finance, that the above period be extended to 5 October 2013. "Whilst no official approval for extension has been granted as yet, the matter is receiving urgent attention from the Ministry. Given the above, it is expected that this will allow clients as far as reasonably possible to assist Accountable Institutions to comply with requests issued for purposes of identification," says Katoma.
Although many institutions have not yet registered all of their clients, some accountable institutions such as Nedbank and Bank Windhoek have already introduced communications strategies to inform their clients on the importance of complying with the Act.