Yaoundé - 10 June 2023 -

Cameroon broadens bank secrecy scope to microfinance and electronic payment operators

Cameroon broadens bank secrecy scope to microfinance and electronic payment operators
  • Comments   -   Tuesday, 22 March 2022 15:20

(Business in Cameroon) - Cameroon has submitted a new bank secrecy bill to the parliament, broadening its scope to microfinance and electronic payment service providers. 

In the explanatory memorandum of the bill, the government states that "given the developments in the financial and technological sector," some aspects of the current bill, in force for 18 years now, have become obsolete. For the government, with the developments come new risks for the development of criminal activities, namely money laundering, cybercrime, and terrorist financing.

If the draft bill is passed as submitted, microfinance and electronic payment operators, who are the results of the latest financial and technological development, will henceforth be subjected to the bank secrecy act like ordinary banks. They will therefore be required to keep the client information and data they have access to a secret. 

They must also collaborate with judicial authorities or with administrations that combat money laundering and terrorism financing. For instance, in Cameroon, the bank secrecy act requires financial institutions to report over XAF5 million deposits to the National Agency for Financial Investigation (ANIF).

Currently, microfinance and electronic payment operators are not subjected to the bank secrecy act in Cameroon. So, they are not required to keep clients’ data secret or collaborate with judicial and monetary authorities. This will change if parliament passes the new bill. 

According to the text submitted to the parliament, failure to comply with the provisions is punishable with three months to three years jail sentence and fines ranging between XAF1 million and 50 million or one of those two sentences. When clients’ data are published in the press, on radio, television, or through any electronic means accessible to the public, the penalties will be doubled. The institutions or branches found guilty of breaching the bank secrecy act may also be closed for some time. 

Sylvain Andzongo

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