Yunus Carrim, ANC MP and chairperson of the standing committee on finance, took a tough stance against the fact that the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) Bill has been sent back to Parliament for "constitutional reasons".
"Parliament is not going to tremble and buckle just because the president's lawyers said it's unconstitutional. If the presidency's lawyers are wrong, they're wrong," Carrim said.
His comments came after President Jacob Zuma on November 30 had referred the bill back to Parliament, because of reservations about its constitutionality.
The Democratic Alliance's David Maynier said in his speech that Parliament's finance committee applied its mind to similar provisions contained in this FIC Bill, and at the last minute agreed to amend a clause in the Twin Peaks Bill to narrow the scope and clarify the purpose of warrantless searches.
"The committee received assurance from Advocate Frank Jenkins, a senior parliamentary legal adviser, that following the amendment of Clause 137, the bill was constitutional," Maynier said.
"However, in the absence of a formal legal opinion, and in the absence of a legal opinion on a similar clause in the FIC Bill an element of doubt has arisen as to whether the (Twin Peaks) Bill is constitutional," he added.
Floyd Shivambu of the Economic Freedom Fighters also referred to the delay of the FIC Bill in his speech. "The Parliament's majority said the FIC Bill must be passed, and the ANC said it must be passed.
"But then the Saxonwold platforms and editorials in the (Gupta-owned) New Age (newspaper) editorials argue that the bill must not be passed," Shivambu said. "So, just before Parliament closes the president decides to bring back that bill to be entertained. It frustrates the efforts to fight financial crimes," Shivambu said.
Wrapping up the debate, Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas acknowledged that there may be difficulty with the Twin Peaks Bill and the overall regulation of the financial sector in the absence of the ratification of the FIC Bill.
The Twin Peaks Bill was first introduced for public comment in December 2013 and a revised version was published in December 2014. Members of Parliament's standing committee on finance have deliberated the bill extensively since August this year.
The bill aims to establish a new prudential regulator under the helm of the Reserve Bank that will be responsible for regulating all financial institutions — banks, insurance houses and the asset management sector.
Currently the Financial Services Board is overseeing the conduct of insurance houses and asset managers, but in future the body will cease to exist and a new body will be formed in its place, tasked with regulating market conduct and protecting consumers.
With the Twin Peaks Bill, Treasury wants to increase protection of South African consumers and regulate market conduct, at the same time creating a more stable financial system.