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New Law on Bank Secrecy in Cameroon – Enhancing Personal Data Protection

New Law on Bank Secrecy in Cameroon - Enhancing Personal Data Protection

Table of Contents

Introduction

In Cameroon, the enactment of Law no 2022/006 on bank secrecy marks a significant step towards adapting to the evolving landscape of the financial services sector. This legislation aims to address emerging challenges posed by the entry of new technology actors, such as payment service providers (FINTECH), while ensuring the protection of personal data belonging to clients of reporting entities.

I. Clarification of Existing and Introduction of New Concepts:

The new law brings about several changes in terminology to enhance clarity. Concepts like Guardian, Donee, Credit Institutions, Bare-owner, Legal Tutor, and Beneficial owner have been reformulated to Guardianship, Donation, Reporting Entities, Bare-ownership, Tutelage, and Usufruct, respectively. Furthermore, new concepts such as Rightful claimant, Supreme audit institution, and third party have been introduced to align with the evolving landscape.

II. Increase in Reporting Entities and Subjected Persons:

The scope of reporting entities subject to bank secrecy has expanded significantly. Previously, only credit institutions were included, but the new law now encompasses microfinance institutions, payment service providers, and other authorized bodies engaged in dedicated financial activities. Moreover, administrators of reporting entities have been added to the list of individuals prohibited from disclosing client information.

III. Institution of an Indefinite Non-Disclosure Obligation:

A noteworthy provision in the new law is the introduction of an indefinite non-disclosure obligation. This means that employees, management, control organs, and administrators of reporting entities are bound by this obligation throughout their lives and even after they cease working with the reporting entity.

IV. Clarification of Non-Disclosure Obligations:

The new law provides clarity on acts that constitute a violation of bank secrecy. It explicitly states that the release and communication of facts and information related to banking, microfinance, and payment operations obtained in the performance of duties by employees, administrators, management, or control organs of a reporting entity amount to a violation.

However, deeds of clients and facts obtained from sources other than the performance of duties by the mentioned individuals may be subject to disclosure.

Exceptions to bank secrecy have also been expanded. Authorization from clients or their rightful claimants, disclosure to state counsel, monetary authorities, and supervisory bodies, and statements made to the National Agency for Financial Investigation under specific circumstances are among the acts that do not require client consent for disclosure.

V. Authorities and Persons Authorized to Request Lifting of Bank Secrecy:

The new law introduces amendments that extend the list of authorities and persons authorized to request the lifting of bank secrecy.

Judicial authorities, criminal investigators acting based on requisitions from state counsel, tax authorities, customs officials, financial market officials, and institutions combating corruption, money laundering, and terrorist financing are empowered to request the lifting of bank secrecy when performing their duties.

VI. Criminal and Civil Liability for Violating Bank Secrecy:

The new law brings significant changes to the criminal and civil liability associated with breaching bank secrecy. While the previous law imposed criminal liability on management and employees who failed to declare certain transactions, this liability has been removed.

Similarly, sanctions such as confiscation of “corpus delicti” and loss of civil rights have been eliminated. However, civil liability for breach of bank secrecy has been increased to a maximum of 50,000,000 FCFA, and the closure of establishments used for such offenses is now a possibility.

Conclusion:

The recent reform introduced by Law no 2022/006 strengthens the protection of personal data belonging to clients of reporting entities in Cameroon. With clearer concepts, expanded reporting entity scope, and increased non-disclosure obligations, the legislation aligns with evolving trends and technological advancements.

By enhancing bank secrecy regulations, this new law contributes to the modernization of the legal framework, ensuring the protection of personal data in the dynamic financial sector.

Disclaimer: This publication provides information on the subject matter covered and is not intended as legal advice. It is advisable to seek specific legal counsel before taking any action based on the contents of this publication.

COPYRIGHT: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior permission in writing of 4M Legal and Tax or as expressly permitted by law.

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Epanty Mbanda

Attorney-at-law | Corporate-Commercial | Technology (FinTech+Blockchain+Cryptocurrency) | Securities | Tax| Managing Partner at 4M Legal and Tax ( Law Firm in Cameroon)

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