The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) and the provincial law societies reminded attorneys during September to register as accountable institutions (AIs) with the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC). The FIC advised the profession earlier that some 60% of attorneys’ firms had yet to register, even though the deadline for registration had been in March 2011. An insert by the FIC also appeared in the October issue of De Rebus.
The 11 most frequently asked questions by attorneys and the responses by the FIC appear on the LSSA website at http://www.lssa.org.za.
In terms of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act 38 of 2001 (FICA), all practitioners who practise as defined in s 1 of the Attorneys Act 53 of 1979 are regarded as AIs. ‘Practise’ is defined in the Attorneys Act to mean practise as an attorney, notary or conveyancer. This means that the conducting of such business must be a regular feature of the business of such entity or individual.
The view of the FIC is that the requirement rests on each firm of attorneys to be registered and not on individual attorneys working in a firm. Where an attorney practises as a sole practitioner, the attorney is required to register as an AI.
Electronic registration is the preferred method of registration with the FIC. Practitioners can contact their provincial law society for assistance with registration.