The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) has established a new shared forensic service initiative termed a state forensic capability (SFC) unit within the FIC, which will see specialised resources in forensic accounting, financial analysis and related services working together to support the work of law enforcement and other competent authorities in their pursuit of high priority criminal matters.

The SFC shared service will provide forensic service support to mandated entities in terms of section 40 of the FIC Act, 2003, as amended by the General Laws Amendment Act, 2022 (Act 22 of 2022), which extended the objectives of the FIC to produce forensic evidence.

The SFC initiative, which was established in the FIC with effect 1 April 2023 is the result of a project conducted by a multi-faceted task team of officials drawn from agencies in the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) which task team commenced in October 2020. While the SFC task team was headed by Christopher Malan, executive manager for compliance and prevention at the FIC, the decision on where to house the forensic capability was decided by the ACTT principals.

The need for a state forensic capability was identified by the ACTT to assist law enforcement and other competent authorities in their pursuit of high end, complex and impactful fraud, corruption, and other financial criminal matters.

Work to establish the SFC unit will begin immediately, with a small core team focusing on increasing capacity. It is expected that the set up phase for the SFC will take six months, with the capability being launched as fully operational by month seven.

Initial funding for setting up the SFC unit was derived from funding received following the February 2023 Budget, in which the Minister of Finance allocated the FIC an additional R265.3 million to tackle organised and financial crime, including corruption, over the medium term.

As a result of South Africa being grey listed, and as part of the Financial Action Task Force action plan, the police are expected to send more requests to the FIC for financial intelligence. The SFC unit will assist in dealing with an increase in complex money laundering matters that the police refer to the FIC, and do more than only conduct analysis. The SFC unit will be able to produce forensic reports that law enforcement agencies can use in complex money laundering cases. This unit will also be available to go to court and testify on the financial flows and the forensic products that they share with law enforcement agencies, such as the police and prosecutors, as listed in section 40 of the FIC Act. The FIC sees this as a game changer in enhancing the use of intelligence that it shares with law enforcement agencies.