Saturday, November 26, 2011


The South African Parliament has passed the Protection of Information Act*, which severely restricts the publication of any information that is deemed to be classified. With criminal penalties ranging from 5 to 25 years, this new law will seriously discourage not only whistle-blowers and reformers, but it will seriously handicap all efforts to conduct effective due diligence on South African companies, and individuals.

Information deemed to be a state secret may not be published for 20 years. This new law, once it becomes effective, will especially interfere with the activities of compliance officers looking to vet PEPs who may (or may not) have accepted bribes or kickbacks, in connection with their official duties. Investigative journalism and whistle-blowing by media will be dealt a fatal blow.

As a former compliance officer, I know that frank and candid business intelligence is necessary for any enhanced Due Diligence investigation; negative information will simply not be available and accessible, even when it is a known and documented fact, in internal South African journalistic circles.

This new law essentially makes it impossible to rule out corrupt activities of South African Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs), with the result being that country risk will increase for  the Republic of South Africa.

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