CHAPTER 5: Legal professional privilege/intermediary confidentiality: The challenge for anti-money laundering


Legal Professional Privilege/Intermediary Confidentiality
The Challenge for Anti-Money Laundering Measures

Angela Itsikowitz

Money Laundering Experiences, A Survey

Edited by Charles Goredema

Monograph No 124, June 2006




This article considers, first, the common law attorney-client privilege; second, the reporting obligation in the context of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act 38 of 2001 (FICA); and third, international initiatives dealing with attorneys in the context of anti-money laundering legislation.

Privilege and confidentiality

In broad terms, legal professional privilege protects from disclosure communications between attorneys and clients which are made in confidence for the purpose of enabling the client to obtain legal advice. Communications will thus be protected even if they are not connected with litigation.1

The ambit of privilege is somewhat broader if the advice is obtained in connection with actual or contemplated litigation. In such circumstances, the privilege extends to statements that the attorney (or the client) has obtained from third parties. Communications between the attorney (or the client) and a third party will only be privileged if they are made after litigation is contemplated.2 There are thus two types of privilege: legal advice privilege and litigation privilege.

The justification for common law privilege is to be found in the fact that the proper functioning of our legal system depends upon a freedom of communication between the legal advisors and their clients which would not exist if either could be compelled to disclose what passed between them for the purpose of giving or receiving advice. Privilege is a rule of substantive law3 and not just a rule of evidence. It is a fundamental right, the relaxation of which must only be effected with the greatest circumspection.4

The privilege is that of the client, not the attorney. If an attorney claims privilege, he does so on behalf of the client and may have a duty to claim such privilege. If the client elects not to claim the privilege, the attorney has no independent right to do so.5

Privilege does not, however, operate if the client obtains legal advice in order to further a criminal end. An attorney who knowingly participates in the commission of a crime is not acting professionally but the authorities suggest that even if he had no knowledge of the purpose for which advice was sought, no privilege will attach to the communications with the client if the latter obtained the advice in order to further a criminal objective.

Confidentiality is wider than privilege. Information may be confidential even though it is not protected by legal professional privilege. A duty of confidentiality may arise from contract, either as an express term or as an implied term or by virtue of a fiduciary relationship, or it may arise from a delictual duty to refrain from disclosing confidential information.6

While privilege and confidentiality are two distinct concepts, there is an overlap between the two. Confidentiality is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for claiming privilege. A communication must have been intended to be confidential in order for it to be privileged and it is a question of fact whether or not the communication was made in confidence. However, the mere fact that a communication was made in confidence will not necessarily mean that that communication is privileged. That privilege attaches only if the communication is made for the purpose of obtaining legal advice, so that a statement unconnected with the giving of legal advice will not be privileged even if it was made in confidence.7

In Three Rivers District Council and Others v Bank of England8 the Court of Appeal confirmed that legal advice privilege only protects communications between the solicitor and the client with the dominant purpose of giving or receiving advice on legal rights and liabilities and enforceable law. Communications ancillary to that purpose will also be privileged. Advice on presentational matters is not, however, protected unless it is ancillary to advice on legal rights and liabilities.9

In Lavallee, Rackel & Heintz v Canada10 the court gave instructive examples as to the difference between confidence and privilege:
A client goes into a lawyer’s office and asks the lawyer how she can keep real estate out of the hands of her husband. She gets advice about that situation. The communication, the request for, and the giving of advice between the client and the lawyer are privileged. It will not ever be disclosed to anyone.11

A client goes into a lawyer’s office and instructs the lawyer to transfer real estate from herself to buyer X. That communication is merely confidential. It relates to a fact or an act, but not to advice. The lawyer has a professional obligation not to tell the gossip columnist for the local newspaper that the client has sold this property and that she got two million dollars for it. But the communication between the lawyer and the client is not, in traditional terms, privileged. It is only confidential.12

Extension of privilege to persons other than admitted attorneys

Our courts have held that legal professional privilege applies or extends to salaried legal advisors in the employ of government (Mohamed v President of the Republic of South Africa)13 and in the employ of private bodies (an international auditing firm giving tax and legal advice) (Van der Heever v Die Meester en Andere).14 In the Van der Heever case, the legal advisor was a duly admitted advocate. The State law advisors in the Mohamed judgment were probably admitted attorneys although it is not clear from the judgment itself.

The Mohamed decision follows English law, from which our law originates, where it was held in Alfred Crompton Amusement Machines Limited v Customs and Excise Commissioners,15 a decision of the Court of Appeal, that, because a salaried legal advisor (whether a barrister or a solicitor) who is employed by a government department has the same duties as a lawyer in private practice, professional privilege within defined limits attaches to confidential communications between the salaried advisor and his client. Lord Denning, in that case, said that salaried legal advisors are regarded by the law in every respect as being in the same position as those who practise for their own account. They, and their clients, have the same privileges.

In United States of America v Philip Morris Inc and others, British American Tobacco Investments Ltd [2004] EWCA CIV 330, the Commercial Court stated:16
Lawyers do not cease to be regarded as professional legal advisors simply because they are employed by their clients, but in the nature of things those who are employed in that capacity are more likely than independent practitioners to become involved in aspects of the business that are essentially managerial or administrative in nature.
Whether attorney-client privilege extends to non-enrolled attorneys or advocates has not, in my view, been definitively decided by our courts. One could argue that insofar as it is not clear from the Mohamed judgment whether the legal advisors were admitted attorneys or not, the finding in that case could apply as much to admitted attorneys as it could to non-admitted attorneys acting as legal advisors. However, the authority relied on in Mohamed, (Alfred Crompton) dealt with admitted solicitors and in discussing the position of the salaried legal advisor, Lord Denning referred to a “barrister” or a “solicitor”. Although not uniform, the weight of Commonwealth authority appears to be against recognising privilege in the case of non-enrolled legal advisors.17

The courts will not, however, extend privilege to persons who may be giving legal advice on certain matters but who do not have a law degree qualifying them for admission as an attorney or advocate. A chartered accountant, for example, would not have privilege where he or she is giving tax advice which could be legal advice.

FICA and the attorney’s duty to report suspicious transactions

Chapter 3 of FICA imposes stringent compliance obligations on “accountable institutions”. Accountable institutions are set out in Schedule 1 of the Act and included is “an attorney as defined in the Attorneys Act 1979”.18 Section 1 of the Attorneys Act defines an “attorney” as “any person duly admitted to practice as an attorney in any part of the Republic”.

Attorneys as accountable institutions are obliged to identify and verify their clients as prescribed.19 They are also obliged to keep records of business relationships and transactions for at least five years from the date on which the business relationship is terminated or after the conclusion of the transaction.20 Attorneys are also obliged to formulate and implement internal rules21 and to provide training and to monitor compliance.22 Furthermore, in terms of section 27, an attorney as an accountable institution must advise an authorised representative of the Financial Intelligence Centre whether a specified person is or has been a client of the attorney; a specified person is acting or has acted on behalf of any client of the attorney; or a client of the attorney is acting or has acted for a specified person. The disclosure of such information would not be protected by privilege. It may well be confidential but it is not privileged.23

Most contentious of the compliance obligations and the focus of this article is the duty to report suspicious and unusual transactions. This duty is more widely cast and applies not only to accountable institutions but also to persons who carry on business. Attorneys, as well as all persons who carry on business, will be obliged to report non-privileged confidential information in the circumstances set out in section 29 of FICA.

In terms of section 29(1), an attorney and other persons who carry on business who know or suspect will be obliged to report when:
  1. the business has received (or is about to receive) the proceeds of unlawful activities;24

  2. a transaction or series of transactions to which a business is a party –

    (i)    facilitated or is likely to facilitate the transfer of the proceeds of unlawful activities;

    (ii)   has no apparent business or lawful purpose;

    (iii)  is conducted for the purpose of avoiding giving rise to a reporting duty under this Act; or

    (iv)  may be relevant to the investigation of any evasion or attempted evasion of a duty to pay any tax, duty or levy imposed by legislation administered by the Commissioner for the South African Revenue Service; or

  3. the business has been used or is about to be used in any way for money laundering purposes.25
The duty to report extends to enquiries that have been made regarding transactions which might have had the abovementioned consequences had they been executed26 and to transactions which may be related to terrorist activities.27 Reports must be made to the Financial Intelligence Centre within 15 days after acquiring the knowledge or formulating a suspicion. Failure to report is a criminal offence and on conviction the person is liable to imprisonment not exceeding 15 years or a fine not exceeding R10,000,000.00.28 The duty to report is thus a qualified one and only arises in the circumstances set out above.

The first issue for consideration is what constitutes a “transaction”. “Transaction” is defined in section 1(1) of the Act as meaning “a transaction concluded between a client and an accountable institution in accordance with the type of business carried on by that institution”. This definition is largely circuitous and insofar as it includes the word “transaction” has only a limiting effect: first, it is limited to a transaction concluded between a client and an accountable institution; and second, it is limited to transactions “in accordance with the type of business carried on by that institution”.

Although not germane to this article insofar as an attorney is an accountable institution, this definition leaves scope for an argument that a suspicious transaction is not reportable where the business which is party to that transaction is not an accountable institution or, if it is an accountable institution, that the transaction is not concluded in accordance with the type of business carried on by that institution. A core portion of section 29 would be rendered meaningless if this definition were to apply to section 29 and it has been suggested29 that the context indicates that section 1 definition of transaction does not apply to section 29 and ‘transaction’ in the context of that section should therefore be given its ordinary, grammatical meaning.

In the Oxford Dictionary, a ‘transaction’ is defined as:
The action of transacting or fact of being transacted, the carrying on or completion of any action or course of action, the accomplishment of a result.
In June 2004, the Financial Intelligence Centre issued a guidance note entitled Guidance to Financial Services Industries Regulated by the Financial Services Board Concerning the Meaning of the Word “Transaction”.30

 This guidance note interprets ‘transaction’ as a broad concept that “includes any instruction or request by a client to an intermediary to perform some act to give effect to the business relationship between them”. For purposes of the identification and verification obligation, ‘transaction’ is understood to be more limited and does not include activities that happen automatically without instructions from the client.31

In relation to attorneys, the transaction which the attorney concludes with his client is the acceptance of a mandate32 or instruction to furnish advice or to represent the client in litigation or in other non-litigious matters. It is certainly not the underlying transaction to which his client is a party. Generally, the rights and duties under a contract of mandate, including the duty to preserve the confidentiality of any communications between the principal and the agent, are enforceable and binding only between these parties and the duty of confidence is not a defence to a legal testimonial duty.

What of ‘suspicion’? Does the suspicion have to exist in the mind of the person obliged to report or is it enough that it would exist in the mind of a reasonable person in his position? Second, if there has to be an actual suspicion, what is the quality of the suspicion? Must it be a reasonable suspicion? The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘suspicion’ as:
the feeling or state of mind of one who suspects; imagination or conjecture of the existence of something evil or wrong without proof, apprehension of guilt or fault on slight grounds or without clear evidence; imagination of something (not necessarily evil) as possible or likely; a slight belief or idea of something, or that something is the case; a surmise; a faint notion; an inkling: surmise of something future; expectation….a slight or faint trace, very small amount, hint, suggestion (of something).
This definition of suspicion places the threshold rather low, since it contemplates the forming of suspicion where a person has only an inkling or merely a faint notion or surmise that a person has been engaged in criminal conduct or benefited from the proceeds of criminal conduct.

In Hussein v Chong Fook Kam33 the court stated:
Suspicion in its ordinary meaning is a state of conjecture or surmise where proof is lacking. ‘I suspect but I cannot prove’. Suspicion arises at or near the starting point of any investigation of which the obtaining of prima facie proof is the end.34
Similarly, in Commissioner for Corporate Affairs v Guardian Investments35 it was said that the word ‘suspect’ requires a degree of satisfaction, not necessarily amounting to belief, but at least extending beyond speculation as to whether an event has occurred or not.

While the word ‘suspects’ would seem to indicate an actual suspicion in the mind of the person concerned, it is clear that on a reading of the Act as a whole,36 it is enough if the suspicion would have existed in the mind of a reasonable person in his position. That the suspicion contemplated in section 29 is probably a reasonable suspicion37 is supported by both case law38 and the fact that the person reporting must report the grounds for the knowledge or suspicion in section 29(2).

For purposes of the Act, a person has knowledge of a fact if he or she had actual knowledge of that fact or, the court is satisfied that he or she believed there to be a reasonable possibility of the existence of that fact and then failed to obtain information to confirm the existence of that fact.39 The law in this regard was summarised by the court in Frankel Pollak Vinderine Inc v Stanton NO:40
Where a person has a real suspicion and deliberately refrains from making inquiries to determine whether it is groundless, where he or she sees red (or perhaps amber) lights flashing but chooses to ignore them, it cannot be said that there is an absence of knowledge of what is suspected or warned against.
The duty to report in terms of section 29 overrides any duty of confidentiality, however that duty may arise. Section 37(1) of FICA provides that no duty of secrecy or confidentiality or any other restriction on the disclosure of information, whether imposed by legislation or arising from the common law or by agreement, affects compliance by an accountable institution, supervisory body, reporting institution, the South African Revenue Service or any other person, with a provision of Part 3 of FICA (reporting obligations).

In terms of section 37(2), however, attorney-client privilege is specifically preserved insofar as it provides that the reporting obligations set out in section 29 do not apply to communications between an attorney and his client for the purposes of enabling the client to obtain legal advice in general or advice in respect of litigation that is contemplated, pending or has commenced. Given that the term ‘attorney’ is defined in the Schedule, only admitted attorneys would be able to rely on the privilege. It would seem that legal advisors who are not admitted attorneys and even advocates are excluded from the privilege.

Attorneys may not inform their clients that they have made a report. To do so would constitute tipping off, an offence in terms of FICA.41 However, where a client discusses with his attorney a proposed course of conduct that may constitute unlawful conduct, the attorney will not be precluded from advising the client that the proposed course of conduct is unlawful and should not be continued.42 Furthermore, the provisions of FICA do not impact an attorney’s ethical right and duty not to accept an unlawful mandate from a client or to withdraw from the matter.43 Care should, however, be taken to ensure that any withdrawal will not be construed as tipping the client off. In terms of section 33 of FICA, once the attorney has reported the transaction, he may continue with it unless directed otherwise by the FIC.

As in other jurisdictions, the inclusion of attorneys in the anti-money laundering legislation was met with fierce opposition. Among other things, it was said that the provisions of FICA applicable to attorneys may be unconstitutional and threaten the independence of the legal profession. The Law Society of South Africa sought Counsel’s opinion44 on the constitutionality of the provisions of FICA that impact on attorneys. Counsel briefed were of the view that insofar as FICA specifically preserved privilege and given that communications which are confidential but not privileged have always been subject to disclosure under the ordinary laws relating to the procuring of evidence for trial, it was unlikely that an overall constitutional challenge by the profession would be successful.45 Furthermore, it is the rules of privilege rather than the rules of confidentiality which are essential for the maintenance of the independence of the legal profession. While it may be difficult in practice to distinguish between confidential and privileged information FICA recognises the distinction and preserves the privilege as between attorney and client.

International initiatives

The Second EU Directive,46 effective from 28 December 2001, based on the Forty Recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), obliges member states to extend their anti-money laundering regimes to include ‘gatekeepers’, among others, legal practitioners, notaries and accountants:
Notaries and independent legal professionals…should be made subject to the provisions of the Directive when participating in financial or corporate transactions, including providing tax advice, where there is the greatest risk of the services of those legal professionals being misused for the purpose of laundering the proceeds of criminal activity.
Both the EU Directive and the Forty Recommendations47 issued by the FATF, however, recognise that legal professional privilege is fundamental to a democratic society and the rule of law. Both embody a limitation on the duty to report information concerning a client where the disclosure of such information is protected by legal professional privilege.48

Domestic implementing law gives rise to variations of the Directive. Lawyers in Austria, for example, are permitted to disclose to their clients that a suspicious transaction report has been filed. Similarly, in Ireland a solicitor is not specifically prohibited from informing his client that he will cease to act because he was unhappy with the transaction.49 In the UK, in terms of the Proceeds of Crime Act, 2002,50 solicitors are obliged to report if they “know or suspect” or have “reasonable grounds for knowing or suspecting that another person is engaged on money laundering”, if the information on which his knowledge or suspicion is based came to him “in the course of a business in the regulated sector”. The attorney must make the required report “as soon as is practicable after the information…comes to him”. Privileged information is excepted so long as it is not “communicated with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose”. As in the South African legislation, tipping off is criminalised in the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Moreover, different authorities receive the suspicious transaction reports. In the UK, for example, it is the National Criminal Intelligence Service, while in Denmark and in Germany it is the Bar Associations that receive the reports. The Advokatsamfundet receives them in Denmark and the Bundesrechsanwaltskammer in Berlin. The Danish Bar is not obliged to pass on this information, but the German Bar must, together with its own comments, to the public prosecutor and to the money laundering office of the German Federal Police.51

Where reports are made to an intelligence unit different models apply. The intelligence unit receiving reports may be an administrative model (as is the position of the South African Financial Intelligence Centre) or a police model or justice model. The advantage of the administrative model over the police and the justice models is that it makes a clear distinction between cases of suspicion, which are dealt with administratively, and offences, which are the province of law-enforcement services.

There has been tremendous opposition to the Second EU Directive by the legal profession. The Belgian Bar, for example, claimed it was anti-constitutional and in July the Belgian courts referred the issue of its compatibility with the right to a fair trial to the European Court of Justice. The French Bar has petitioned the European Parliament on the reporting obligations of lawyers while the Polish Bar has issued challenge in its national courts to determine whether some of the regulations are consistent with the Polish constitution.52

The Canadian Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering Act 2000, c 17) was challenged in the British Columbia Supreme Court53 where interlocutory relief was granted on the basis that there was a constitutional issue to be determined regarding whether the Act violated the independence of the Bar.54 In March 2003 the Canadian government rescinded the Gatekeeper Initiative.55

Although not applicable to American lawyers, the American Bar Association has argued that this so-called Gatekeeper Initiative would violate ‘the bedrock principles’ governing attorneys, the companion duties of loyalty and confidentiality and transform the relationship of trust into one of suspicion. The duty to report suspicious transactions will damage the attorney-client relationship, in essence making attorneys agents of the State and threatening the fundamental concept of the independence of the attorney. The reporting requirement coupled with the no tipping rule, so the argument goes, will open a myriad of troubling issues of definition interpretation and application. Furthermore, there is no standardised definition of what is sufficiently suspicious to require a report. Should the standard be subjective or objective? What is the extent of the investigation the attorney must conduct of his or her client before accepting the representation or filing a suspicious transaction report?56 These concerns are echoed by a number of jurisdictions. In the context of the UK legislation, it has been said, “suspicion is not an easy state of mind to define and difficulties for those working with the Act are exacerbated by the fact that there is no definition in the primary legislation”.57

In the view of the American Bar Association such measures might force lawyers to decline representations that should not be declined or report clients who are innocent. Such reporting would potentially cause a conflict of interest if the attorney continues to represent the client, particularly when the client does not know that he has been reported.

The European Commission was required by Article 2 of the Second Directive to propose a new Directive before 15 December 2004.58 The Commission issued its formal proposal on 30 June 2004,59 which member states have 24 months to implement. The aims of the Third Directive are to consolidate the First and Second Directives60 and to effect amendments to ensure that European Union (EU) countries will be in line with the global FATF standards for anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing.61

The Third Directive reproduces much of the Second Directive but is significantly more detailed and increases the scope of the regulated sector. Among other things it, expressly covers terrorist financing, introduces new definitions such as for Politically Exposed Persons, Beneficial Owners and Business Relationship. It required money services business, trusts and casinos to be licensed and registered under a fit and proper test, and tempers customer due diligence requirements by a risk-based approach.

In terms of legal professional privilege the Third Directive remains the same as the Second Directive except for the removal in Article 25 of specific exemption for Legal Professional Privilege with regard to tipping off. This is in line with the FATF requirements. The Directive specifically provides, however, that where legal advisors seek to dissuade a client from illegal activity, this will not constitute tipping off. Furthermore, in terms of Article 20(1) as regards notaries and other independent legal professionals, Member States may designate an appropriate self-regulatory body of the profession concerned as the authority to be informed in the first instance in place of the Financial Intelligence Unit. If such a reporting structure is adopted, each Member State must stipulate the appropriate forms of co-operation between that body and the Financial Intelligence Unit. Article 20(2) makes it clear that an obligation to notify under Article 25 need not arise where the specified professionals obtain the information in the course of ascertaining their client’s legal position or defending or representing their client in relation to actual or putative legal proceedings and because of this the tipping off requirement rarely applies.

As far as the reporting duty is concerned, certain of the criticisms of the Directives may be ill founded in that they seem to conflate privilege and secrecy. While overriding confidentiality, both the Second and the Third Directives specifically preserve privilege as the cornerstone of the attorney-client relationship and it will be interesting to hear what the European Court of Justice finds in respect of the reporting obligations. If the client is of the view that all communications are confidential, that is an incorrect assumption on his behalf and ought to be corrected in the take-on letter or on acceptance of a mandate. The common law notion of privilege makes it quite clear what information cannot be disclosed. The concern that the Directive is placing a disproportionate burden on lawyers and turning them into policemen may be well founded and in the long run, the duty to report may do violence to the right of clients to unfettered legal advice.

Although the banker’s duty of confidence to its customer has never been elevated to privilege and banking and the legal profession cannot be equated, similar arguments have been made by the banking industry. Before the advent of anti-money laundering legislation, the questioning of a customer’s legitimacy, integrity and even identity would have conflicted with established practice and common law where the banks duty of confidence is recognised. Bank secrecy is overridden but confidentiality is preserved.

A further concern is that of the cost of compliance with anti-money laundering legislation by attorneys particularly the smaller firms. But the cost argument is not one germane only to the legal profession. Anti-money laundering legislation across the industries carries significant costs which are ultimately borne by the customer or client.

In the result the end has to justify the means. Have the reporting obligations been effective? How many prosecutions have there been and has the gatekeeper initiative served as a deterrent to the launderer in his utilisation of the legal profession through which to launder the proceeds of unlawful activities? While the policies underpinning the Directive are laudable, one must guard against turning the legal profession and the business community into watchdogs and criminals. The effectiveness of costly and burdensome requirements must be routinely reviewed by the industries affected, the enforcement authorities, politicians and the legislature to ensure that they continue to be justified in deterring money launderers. In this regard, it is interesting to note that the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe and other bodies representing lawyers are concerned that the European Commission has not kept its assurance to assess the impact of the Second Directive on the legal profession before further changes were introduced. All the Bar Societies in Europe had signed a letter calling for the delay in implementing the Third Directive but the Commission was keen to bring EU rules into line with the latest FATF Recommendations.62

Returning now to South Africa, FICA is largely in line with the Second and Third Directives. The legislature may want to consider amending our law by allowing attorneys to report suspicious transactions to the Law Society in the first instance, rather than to the Financial Intelligence Centre. (The Law Society is designated as a supervisory body in Schedule 2 of the Act.) Such an amendment would give effect to Article 20 of the Directive and may go some way in appeasing the legal profession. Moreover, the finding of the European Court of Justice on the reporting obligations referred to above may ultimately have some bearing on our legislation. While the last words on attorneys and the anti-money laundering regime has not been spoken, attorneys should, in my view be included in any anti-money laundering legislation.

Indisputably, attorneys are used by money launderers, both directly, where the attorney’s trust account is used as a vehicle through which to launder money, and indirectly, where, for example, the attorney establishes companies or trusts which will be used to launder the money as well as in the drafting of contracts which will facilitate money laundering. The FATF in its 1995–1996 report on money-laundering typologies63 stated that an important trend has been the rise of a class of professional money-laundering facilitators. Among the more common tactics observed by FATF member countries has been the use of attorneys’ trust accounts for the placement and layering of funds. Other ploys include the establishment of shell corporations, trusts or partnerships by attorneys, accountants and other professionals. Moreover, the use of attorneys in the money laundering process has been a consistent theme in subsequent reports of the FATF.


  1. See Hoffmann and Zeffert, The South African Law of Evidence, 4 ed, p 248.

  2. Ibid, note 1 at 259ff, 1988.

  3. Further in this regard, see Pratt Holdings (Pty) Ltd v Commissioner of Taxation [2004] FCAFC 122, a decision of the Australian Full Federal Court.

  4. See, for example, S v Safatsa 1988 (1) SA 868, (A) where Botha JA said “that any claim to a relaxation of the privilege…must be approached with the greatest circumspection” at 886.

  5. Deneys Reitz in a paper presented at a conference of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, entitled “Law Society of the Northern Provinces Seminar”, 28 February 2003.

  6. See M van der Westhuizen, Obligations to report, De Rebus, December 2003 p 34.

  7. Ibid.

  8. [2004] EWCA Civ 218.

  9. A copy of the full judgment can be obtained from

  10. (A.G.) 1998 ABQB 436 referred to by B Bester in An ‘assault’ on the attorney-client relationship and on the independence of the profession?, in De Rebus, July 2002, p 26.

  11. At paragraph 49.

  12. At paragraph 50.

  13. 2001 (2) SA 1146 (C) at 1152F and 1157A.

  14. 1997 (3) SA 93 (T) at 101J-102E.

  15. (2) [1972] 2 All ER 353.

  16. At paragraph 64.

  17. See, for example, New Victoria Hospital v Ryan [1993] IRLR 19 (EAT) para 11 and Attorney-General (NT) v Kearney (1985) 158 CLR 500 (HC of Australia) para 10. See also C Tapper, Cross and Tapper on Evidence, 9th ed, UK, LexisNexis.

  18. Act 53 of 1979.

  19. Section 21 of the Act and Regulations promulgated in GNR 1595 of 20 December 2002. In terms of an exemption promulgated in terms of the Act 53 of 1979 attorneys have to identify and verify their clients only in the circumstances set out in the exemption. See clause 10 Part 4 the Exemptions.

  20. Sections 22 and 23.

  21. Section 42.

  22. Section 43.

  23. See further M van der Westhuizen, Keeping client and transaction records, De Rebus, November 2003 p 32, on the admissibility of records and the Financial Intelligence Centre’s access to records.

  24. ‘Proceeds of unlawful activities’ has the meaning attributed to that term in section 1 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121 of 1998. The term is defined in that Act as meaning “any property or service, advantage, benefit or reward which was derived; received or retained, directly or indirectly, in the Republic or elsewhere, at any time before or after the commencement of this Act, in connection with or as a result of any unlawful activity carried on by any person, and includes any property representing property so derived”.

  25. Money laundering is defined to mean “an activity which has or is likely to have the effect of concealing or disguising the nature, source, location, disposition or movement of the proceeds of unlawful activities or any interest which anyone has in such proceeds, and includes any activity which constitutes an offence in terms of section 64 of this Act or section 4, 5 or 6 of the Prevention Act”.

  26. Section 29(2).

  27. Sections 28(A) and section 29(1) as amended by the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Act 33 of 2004.

  28. Section 68.

  29. L de Koker, KPMG Money Laundering Control Service fn 33 on Com329 and M Van der Westhuizen, Interpreting s29 and the obligation to report, Part 2, De Rebus, May 2004 p 37.

  30. GN 735 26469, 18 June 2004. This guidance note issued via the Registrar of Banks provides: “While [the] definition [of transaction] does not attribute a particular meaning to the term ‘transaction’, it conveys the concept that the term may have different meanings depending on the type of business undertaken by different accountable institutions and would be applied differently among them. In short, the term must be applied in each instance in accordance with the nature of the business carried on by the accountable institutions in question….Transactions are concluded on the basis of agreements between the parties to a transaction. Following the definition of the term ‘transaction’ in the Act, as well as the dictionary meaning of the term, these agreements must be aimed at a piece of business done between an accountable institution and a client, in accordance with the nature of the business carried on by the institution concerned. A basic guideline, which can be inferred from this, is that any instructions or request by a client to an intermediary to perform some act to give effect to the business relationship between can be regarded as a transaction.”

  31. It states in this regard: “For the purpose of the obligation to establish and verify clients’ identities as referred to in this guidance note, the term “transaction” is not understood to include activities which happen automatically, or which an intermediary will perform automatically, without instructions from the client. These consequences include, for example, periodic contractual payments by clients to institutions and periodic automatic increases in such payments, as well as further business that accountable institutions may do with others in the course of giving effect to the clients’ original mandate.”

  32. See Incorporated Law Society Transvaal v Meyer 1981 (3) SA 926 (T) 970 referred to by B Bester, op cit. p 26.

  33. [1969] 3 All ER 1627 (PC) at 1630.

  34. This dictum has been accepted by our courts. See Duncan v Minister of Law and Order 1986 (2) SA 805 (A) at,50H-J and the cases referred to therein. See also Minister of Law and Order v Kader 1991 (1) SA 41 (A) 50H-J and Isaacs v Minister van Wet en Orde [1996] 1 All SA 343 (A) at 348e-f.

  35. [1984] ([1984] VR 1019).

  36. See, for example, section 52(2) which provides that a person who reasonably ought to have known or suspected that any of the facts triggering a reporting obligation in terms of section 29 existed and who negligently failed to report commits an offence.

  37. See van der Westhuizen, 2004, op cit., p 37.

  38. See Minister of Law and Order v Kader 1991 (1) SA 41 (A). In Walsh v Loughman [1992] ([1992] 2 VR 351) mere speculation was excluded and the court held that “although the creation of a suspicion requires a lesser factual basis than the creation of a belief it must nonetheless be built on some foundation”.

  39. Section  1(2). See also section 1(3) which deals with “ought reasonably to have known or suspected a fact”.

  40. [1962] 2 All SA 582 (W) at 596C-D.

  41. Section 29(3) and (4).

  42. See M Bester, Some rules of thumb, De Rebus, July 2004, p 34.

  43. Ibid.

  44. The opinion referred to here was given by Advocate Wim Trengrove SC. An opinion was also furnished by Advocate Gilbert Marcus SC. Both these opinions are available from the Law Society of the Northern Provinces offices.

  45. See the paper prepared by Deneys Reitz, op cit., p 6.

  46. 2001/97/EC. The First European Union Directive (91/308/EEC) of 1991 imposed anti money laundering obligations on the financial sector and defined money laundering largely in terms of drug trafficking. This limitation was found to be too restrictive and the Second European Directive extended the predicative offence to cover other crimes and brought ‘gatekeepers’ within its remit.

  47. Recommendation 16.

  48. van der Westhuizen, 2004, op cit., p 37.

  49. Peters and Peters, Money laundering update – a third EU Directive? (July 2004).

  50. The Act received royal assent on 24 July 2002.

  51. Peters and Peters, op cit., p 2.

  52. See Gatekeepers or Policemen? Third Money Laundering Directive a step too far, International Bar News, October 2005, p 5.

  53. Law Society of British Columbia v Attorney-General of Canada 2001 BCSC 1953.

  54. In September 2001 the Law Society of British Columbia issued a statement to the effect that it did not support the Canadian Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering Act (2000, c 17) insofar as it disregards the Code of Professional Conduct, which “generally requires lawyers to hold in strict confidence all information concerning the business and affairs of clients”.

  55. See M Avery, Global assault on attorney client privilege, Without Prejudice, 5(9), October 2005, p 35. It is interesting to note that the Canadian legislation like, FICA preserves legal privilege. Section 11 of the Act stated that nothing in Part 1 “requires a legal counsel to disclose any communication that is subject to solicitor client privilege”.

  56. See, in particular, The American Bar Association’s Report to the House of Delegates, ABA Task Force on Gatekeeper Regulation and the Profession, February 2003 (the Gatekeeper Task Force home page is at .

  57. See Howard, The mens rea test for money laundering offences (part 2), New Law Journal, 28, 8 January 1999.

  58. See Peters and Peters, op cit., p 1.

  59. Brussels, 30.6.2004 COM (2004) 448 final 2004/0137 (COD).

  60. In terms of Article 40 of the Third Directive, Directive 91/308/EEC will be repealed.

  61. The Forty Recommendations can be viewed at .

  62. Peters and Peters, op cit., p 6.

  63. Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, Annual Report 1995-1996, FATF-VII.

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