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President Cyril Ramaphosa,File Pic GCIS

Lifestyle audits to strengthen financial disclosures, fight corruption

President Cyril Ramaphosa says lifestyle audits will strengthen the system of financial disclosures by Ministers and civil servants and also contribute greatly in the fight against corruption.

He said this when he responded to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday.

The President’s remarks come after he announced that he would look into introducing lifestyle audits during his State of the Nation Address in February.

“The lifestyle audits will further strengthen our system of financial declarations for the Executive and public servants.

“Currently, members of the Executive make declarations annually to Parliament and to the Secretary of Cabinet, while senior officials and officials in supply chain management make annual submissions to the Public Service Commission.

“The lifestyle audits would be in addition to the work done by various law enforcement agencies, which continually monitor the lifestyles of those suspected to be engaging in corruption, fraud and other criminal activities,” he said.

DA member of Parliament Jacques Julius had asked the President when and in what form the implementation process of the lifestyle audits had begun.

The President said he has directed the director-general in the Presidency to lead the process of establishing the nature, form and scale of lifestyle audits of members of the executive and those who occupy positions of responsibility.

He said a technical task team, which comprises of the Presidency, Auditor-General, South African Police Service, South African Revenue Service, State Security Agency, Anti-Corruption Task Team, Office of the Public Service Commission and Financial Intelligence Centre, has been established.

Various options were currently being considered for the implementation of the audit, with a view to developing a sustainable model that is consistent with the country’s Bill of Rights and relevant legislation.

He said the technical task team is expected to make recommendations for his consideration by the end of October 2018.

“This will enable me to further apply my mind and will provide an opportunity for further consultation before a final decision is reached on the nature, form and scale of the proposed lifestyle audits,” he said.

The President said the Asset Forfeiture Unit, for example, continues to seize the proceeds of crime from suspected or convicted individuals.

To add to this, the Financial Intelligence Centre follows illegal financial flows on a daily basis, while the South African Revenue Service is holding tax evaders to account.

“The Anti-Corruption Task Team reported that in the last financial year, 345 people were arrested for corruption and corruption-related offences and 250 were convicted.

“These achievements demonstrate that government is hard at work, fighting corruption and fraud.

“We have no doubt that the lifestyle audits will contribute significantly in defeating corruption and the abuse of public resources for private gain,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za

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