Guyana faces pressure over failure to enact anti-money laundering law
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, April 27, CMC – The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) has warned of harsh consequences should Guyana fail to pass anti-money laundering legislation before a May 29 conference.
The task force addressed the matter during a meeting on Saturday with President Donald Ramotar, the Attorney General Anil Nandlall and others.
Following the meeting, Nandlall said CFAFT noted that Guyana is the only country yet to implement all of the recommendations related to the bill. “She made it very clear that the consequences are going to be devastating,” AG Nandlall said.
He said although Guyana has a completed Bill that has been examined by CFAFT, and deemed to be compliant, the proposed draft amendments made by the Parliamentary opposition do not address the bill.
In response, vice chairman of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine said there is a political crisis and it requires a political solution.
APNU maintains that even if agreement was reached in the Special Select Committee on amendments to the 2009 Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT), there were several political issues to be resolved.
They include the simultaneous passage of amendments to the parent act, presidential assent of Bills that have been approved by the House and the establishment of a Procurement Commission.
The combined opposition controls the 65-seat National Assembly with its 33.
President Donald Ramotar has refused to sign a number of those Bills into law, saying that they are unconstitutional.
Attorney-at-Law Basil Williams recalled that the top officials of the regional financial crimes watchdog pointed to the grave danger of Guyana being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) if AML/CFT is not amended to make Guyana compliant.
"The team has indicated to us the perils that are associated with being blacklisted and the picture that they painted seem to be very draconian and we were assured that they have advised the government of those perils," he said.
Based on the stance taken by the opposition, the CFAT team is scheduled to meet with Opposition members to re-emphasise the importance of a compliant bill.
Concerns are that the bill may not be passed by the time of the CFATF plenary, and it is hoped that the meetings with the CFATF members would provide the message to the opposition about the importance of having the bill passed, and about the repercussions of the failure to do so.
A Partnership for National Unity’s support is conditional on the president addressing outstanding issues such as the non-assent to Bills passed by the Opposition and the commencement order for the holding of Local Government Elections, among others, while the Alliance for Change (AFC) has called for the a Public Procurement Commission (PPC) and more recently, it had backed APNU’s demands.
Guyana has been blacklisted by the CFATF, and when it submitted its report earlier this year, it was documented that the nation was yet to enact the required laws. At the FATF review, the nation stands to be blacklisted internationally.
CFATF will be holding a review next month when it will refer Guyana to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)/ International Corporation Review Group (ICRG).
The task force maintains that Guyana must pass the relevant legislation and implement all the outstanding issues within its Action Plan, fully criminalise money laundering and terrorist financing offences, among others.
In February, CFATF’s Financial Adviser Roger Hernandez visited Guyana and explained that in order for the bill to be considered by CFATF’s Plenary in May, it would have had to be passed by February 28.
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