South Africa’s central bank governor urged authorities to take urgent action to prevent the nation being added on a global watchdog’s “gray list” of countries that aren’t doing enough to stop the flow of dirty money.
The negative economic consequences of the increased scrutiny it would bring will be “massive,” Lesetja Kganyago told lawmakers in Cape Town on Wednesday.
The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force has given Africa’s most industrialized economy until October to fix weaknesses in combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism or risk joining the 23 nations already sanctioned, including Pakistan, Turkey, Uganda, Morocco and Senegal.
“We have got to be able to treat this with urgency and demonstrate significant progress so that we could actually prevent a gray listing, or if we should be gray listed we can come off that gray list within 12 months,” Kganyago said.
The classification will see jurisdictions such as the European Union increase their due diligence on South Africa’s financial institutions, increasing the cost of borrowing and making it harder to access capital, he said.
“The country’s risk premium has already risen and not purely on this, so the implications for the economy are massive,” the governor said.