Strengthening Law Enforcement to Address White-Collar Financial Crime in South Africa's Private Sector




White-collar financial crime, Financial Sector Regulation Act, Financial sector regulators, Whistle-blowers, Deferred Prosecution Agreements


With the government's focus on combatting public sector corruption and violent crime, the plight of white-collar financial crime in the private sector is of subordinate priority. This contribution seeks to explore means to enhance the capacity of law enforcement agencies to combat white-collar financial crime in the private sector.

We clarify the salient terminology and give an overview of the role of financial sector regulators in financial crime prevention in South Africa, focussing on the Financial Sector Regulation Act 9 of 2017. Financial sector regulators have an important role to play against financial crime, though they are dependent on the criminal justice system to protect the financial sector against criminals. This section is followed by an overview of the role and functions of the South African Police Service, the National Prosecuting Authority, and the court system. We identify difficulties which may hinder the prosecution of white-collar financial crime. First, there is a tendency that companies do not investigate conduct that may amount to white-collar financial crime, and otherwise do not report such incidents. Second, there is a need for a specialised and independent law enforcement agency to attend to serious white-collar financial crime. There is also a skills shortage in the National Prosecuting Authority relative to the intricacies of white-collar financial crime.

As remedial measures, companies ought to apply the corporate governance principles of King IV more robustly. Artificial intelligence can also be utilised to prevent white-collar financial crimes committed in cyberspace. Private sector agencies should be vested with a more comprehensive duty to report white-collar financial crime to the authorities, and the protection and scope of whistle-blowers should be increased. We propose the introduction of Deferred Prosecution Agreements, as well as cooperation between the State and the private sector, to weaken capacity constraints in the prosecution process.


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Author Biographies

Gerda van Niekerk, University of Limpopo

Gerda van Niekerk. BCom LLB LLD (UP). Associate Professor, Department of Mercantile and Labour Law, University of Limpopo South Africa.

Frikkie Ponelis, University of Limpopo

Frikkie Ponelis. BA LLB LLM (US), Advanced Diploma in Labour Law (RAU). Senior Lecturer, Department of Jurisprudence, Legal Pluralism, Criminal Law and Procedure, University of Limpopo, South Africa




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How to Cite

van Niekerk, G., & Ponelis, F. (2024). Strengthening Law Enforcement to Address White-Collar Financial Crime in South Africa’s Private Sector. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 27, (Published on 1 July 2024) pp 1–41.



Special Edition: Banking, Competition & Corporate Law

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