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Ashlin Perumall

Ashlin Perumall is a partner in Baker McKenzie's corporate/M&A and IPTech practice groups in Johannesburg. Ashlin specialises in technology-focused matters, including M&A and venture capital transactions, and the commercial aspects of intellectual property (IP). His practice extends to advising on emerging technology business models and establishing legal, compliance or diligence assessment frameworks for novel targets in various industries, where a high degree of technical expertise is required. These include acting as key advisor to clients entering the fintech (including paytech, open banking, digital banking and financial APIs), blockchain and distributed ledger tech, AI/Machine Learning as a Service (MLaaS) in the auditing industry and digital asset sector. He has over a decade of experience is assessing emerging technology and novel IP acquisition targets. Ashlin has also worked in the Firm's London office and served as a Fellow to the World Economic Forum's Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in San Francisco as part of our partnership with the forum to address global, regional and industry policy issues in respect of 4IR technologies, conducting regulatory and policy research, and paper writing as part of the Digital Currency Governance Consortium (DCGC).

The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) has issued several notifications that are of high importance to businesses with operations in South Africa.
The notifications concern:
• A security compromise as per section 22 of the Protection of Personal Information Act (2013)
• Processes regarding the proof of physical address of companies and close corporations in South Africa
• More information concerning the Annual Return Deregistration Process of Companies and Close Corporations
• Details of the delays expected in processing company and close corporation re-instatement applications and responding to enquiries
• Information concerning the Beneficial Ownership Reviewer System
• Details regarding integration of the Foreigner Assurance Process with Beneficial Ownership.

In July this year, the European Commission adopted an adequacy decision for the EU-US Data Privacy Framework. The decision allows the free flow of data from the European Union to the United States if US companies abide by the Framework. It is likely that the Commission will soon look at adopting adequacy decisions for African countries, in addition to other regions, with such decisions expected to have applicability for those countries that have developed privacy laws that are modeled, fully or partially, on the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations or the earlier EU Data Protection Directive (1995).

On 28 August 2023, the Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition published proposed amendments (the Companies Amendment Bill and Companies Second Amendment Bill) to the Companies Act No. 71 of 2008. We have set out a summary of certain of these amendments, which, in our view, are noteworthy, as well as our views on these amendments.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is driving new business opportunities across a growing number of industry sectors, including consumer goods and retail. Enticed by its transformative potential, companies are actively exploring, experimenting, and deploying AI solutions in business processes, products, and services and are finding ways to derive business value from it. The emergence of generative AI capable of human-like text that can analyze vast amounts of data and create new content has caught the public’s attention and turbocharged interest in potential use cases in the CG&R industry.

Blockchain’s interface with traditional institutions and financial systems provides revenue authorities with a digital trail, and with the growing risk of tax evasion and fraud in crypto-investments, authorities are incentivized to pursue recalcitrant taxpayers. Aside from good governance considerations, the financial risks of tax non-compliance are high. This article looks at recent developments in tax regulations for cryptocurrency in South Africa.

The World Economic Forum recently launched a new whitepaper entitled Pathways to Crypto-Asset Regulation: A Global Approach. Ashlin Perumall, partner in Baker McKenzie Johannesburg, fellow of the World Economic Forum and member of the Digital Currency Governance Consortium community, was one of the co-authors of this white paper. The white paper sets out to understand and highlight the needs and challenges in developing a global approach to crypto-asset regulation.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning technology is driving important new business opportunities across a growing number of industry sectors, including consumer goods and retail. Many CG&R companies are looking into how AI can enhance their business processes and customer interactions and with generative AI and the arrival of ChatGPT, the scope for application is staggering.

In late February 2023, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary officially “greylisted” South Africa when it concluded that it would adopt the Report on South African Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing Measures. Being greylisted brandishes a country as being financially unsafe, in that it has inadequate safeguards against money laundering and terrorist financing. Countries and organizations shy away from, or increase their own compliance requirements for dealing with countries that may be unable to prevent these crimes.

Crypto asset advertisers should be aware that they must now comply with new regulatory requirements around the publishing of crypt asset advertisements in South Africa. The South African Advertising Regulatory Board’s Code of Advertising Practice was broadened to include new requirements for crypto assets in January 2023. Crypto asset advertisers should prioritize compliance with new requirements under the ARB Code because, although the ARB’s rulings are not binding, an adverse decision is usually accepted by the advertising and publishing community and can result in reputational consequences for advertisers.