Category Archives: Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF)

Guyana’s ‘blacklist’ fate still hangs in the balance

Presidential Adviser on Governance and Chief Whip for the Government, Ms. Gail Teixeira

–FATF ‘likely to make a decision’ today or tomorrow

PRESIDENTIAL Adviser on Governance, Gail Teixeira, yesterday told the Guyana Chronicle that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) has completed a preliminary review of Guyana’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework.

She said the international watchdog is expected to make a pronouncement either today or tomorrow. “Right now we are learning as we go… FATF is likely to make a decision, based on ICRG’s first review,” she told the Chronicle by phone from Paris.
Teixeira is currently in the French capital representing Guyana, following the nation’s referral to FATF by the FATF-Style Regional Body (FSRB), the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) on May 29.
Guyana was also regionally blacklisted in November by CFATF, and after its May 29 recommendation, the body called on its member countries to implement counter-measures to be taken against Guyana. The range of onerous measures include: Enhancing due diligence measures in their dealings with Guyana; introducing enhanced reporting mechanisms, or systematic reporting of financial transactions; refusing to establish subsidiaries or branches or representative offices in Guyana; and taking into account the fact that financial institutions from Guyana do not have adequate AML/CFT systems, and thus limit the business relationships or financial transactions with this country.
The enactment of the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill before CFATF’s meet in May, by all accounts, could have averted Guyana’s referral to CFATF, particularly since the body had noted that 90 per cent of the deficiencies identified are legislative in nature.
The Bill, to meet CFATF’s requirements, was tabled in the National Assembly in April 2013, but referred to a Parliamentary Special Select Committee and eventually voted down by the combined Opposition in November 2013. The Bill was re-tabled in December 2013, and again referred to the Parliamentary Special Select Committee, chaired by Ms. Teixiera, where it has been since.
Government has repeated it willingness to have the Bill passed, and has demonstrated its commitment to same, but has been locked in political gridlock with the combined Parliamentary Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance for Change (AFC).
Both Parties have linked conditionalities to their support for passage of the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill.
APNU proposed three amendments, which were included in the Party’s draft amendments to the Principal AML/CFT Act, which President Donald Ramotar said would be supported by his Government if the Party would agree to pass the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill. This was rejected.
APNU’s position is an ‘all-or-nothing’ one, as the Party maintains its demands not only for their Bill, but also restated its call on the President to give his assent to several Bills passed in the National Assembly, including the Local Authorities (Elections) (Amendment) Bill 2013, which states that elections must be held on or before August 1, 2014. The Head of State has already forwarded his explanation for his-non assent to the National Assembly.
On the other hand, the AFC, which is fully behind APNU’s position, is demanding the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC), which the government has agreed to, providing that Cabinet retains its no-objection role in the process; but the latter position has been rejected by the AFC. However, on May 29, after the announcement by CFATF, the AFC, in a statement, noted that it is now willing to budge on its position, and support Cabinet’s retention of its no-objection role.
Additionally, FATF’s new Methodology for assessing technical compliance with the FATF Recommendations and the Effectiveness of AML/CFT systems sets out how the FATF will determine whether a country is sufficiently compliant with the 2012 FATF Standards, and whether its AML/CFT system is working effectively.
FATF is the global standard-setter in the fight against money laundering, and the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and over the past 20 years, the organisation has developed, used, and refined rigorous compliance mechanisms to help ensure global compliance with its Standards. FATF sets standards and promotes effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.
The international body is expected to publish a summary of the outcomes at the end of it ongoing plenary meeting, which started on Monday.

(By Vanessa Narine)

 

No PSSC Report presented to National Assembly

Dr Roger Luncheon

–Guyana misses chance to exit blacklisting trap

THE “sad reality” of yesterday’s sitting of the National Assembly is that it was not graced with a report from the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) that is considering the amended anti-money laundering Bill.

Hence, any expectations of a Bill that could be enacted, that could be assented to at this or subsequent sittings, has essentially been lost, Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon observed Wednesday.
Speaking at his usual post-Cabinet press briefing at the Office of the President in Georgetown, Luncheon said that for Guyana, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-compliant anti-money laundering legislation “is a must” to exit the blacklisting trap that Guyana currently is in.
Luncheon said efforts by the government to get the PSSC as an instrument of the parliamentary political parties to timely consider newer perspectives appear “unavailing.”
The government has been attempting to engage with newer initiatives and the necessary engagement meetings have yet to take place. What is significant about that loss is for whatever worth it provided, a CFATF/FATF legislation taken to the FATF plenary that is occurring next week and the opportunity of Guyana appearing with CFATF legislation, is also lost.
“It goes without saying that whatever it was worth, that loss is going to confirm, it is going to contribute to a heightening of the blacklisting of Guyana and its financial sector.”

(By Telesha Ramnarine)

 

Anti-money laundering problem…

Dr Roger Luncheon

Luncheon reports no progress from Ramotar/Granger discussions

NO PROGRESS has been made in the discussions between President Donald Ramotar and Opposition Leader David Granger, as far as the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF)/Financial Action Task Force (FATF) compliant legislation is concerned.

This was reported yesterday by Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon, when he provided the update at his usual post press briefing at Office of the President, Shiv Chanderpaul Drive in Georgetown.
Furthermore, at the most recent Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC), the Head of the Presidential Secretariat (HPS) reported: “You had more of the same interminable discussions, inflexibility and essentially, the same outcome, no movement. None whatsoever.

‘Blacklisting, apparently, cannot be turned on and off like piped water. Legislation is needed, but while necessary, it is not sufficient. Blacklisting is not needed. Blacklisting should be avoided at all costs. International experience has shown that, minimally, it takes two years to get out of this blacklisting trap. Very few have done it in less. Most have taken more than two years’ – Dr Luncheon

“We had harboured some expectation that FATF plenary is on the 19th and that there might have been some movement sufficient enough to have the enactment of the legislation. This is what we harboured. Now we know that that anticipation fades more and more into the realm of impossibility.
“This last PSSC meeting by no means contributed to us having any hope that this expectation would be realised,” Luncheon remarked.
Meanwhile, he said it goes without saying that some CFATF/FATF compliant anti-money laundering legislation is better than none.
Piped water

“Blacklisting, apparently, cannot be turned on and off like piped water. Legislation is needed, but while necessary, it is not sufficient. Blacklisting is not needed. Blacklisting should be avoided at all costs. International experience has shown that, minimally, it takes two years to get out of this blacklisting trap. Very few have done it in less. Most have taken more than two years.
“The results of what have essentially taken place up to now is that we have been blacklisted and the expectations that come the June plenary of FATF, the blacklisting would solidify and the discretion of jurisdictions state parties that are obliged to being members of the Treaty to protect their financial systems would see blacklisting of Guyana taken to a higher level than it currently is and has been.
“To the extent that the blacklisting and its extent is a function of those jurisdictions that are notified by CFATF and FATF that Guyana has defaulted and Guyana is blacklistable, it means then that our time to be spent in getting out of the blacklisting trap, our efforts would be dedicated to meeting and satisfying the requirements that are being adopted or imposed on CFATF and FATF treaty players.
“Essentially, when we get to the point of enacting CFATF or FATF compliant anti-money laundering legislation, let us not assume that we have done all that is necessary. As I pointed out, the legislation is necessary but it is not sufficient,” Luncheon reiterated.
At a previous press conference, he had said the Opposition continues to deny responsibility for this “sad state of affairs” and wants the public to believe that the anti-money laundering legislation is just another aspect of local politics.
“It is unfortunate that the Opposition attends in Parliament to the plight of the Berbice Bridge crossers, the maritime commuters and declines, refuses to see the bigger picture of FATF compliant legislation,” he lamented.

(By Telesha Ramnarine)

Non-passage of AML/CFT Bill already affecting investments

Burrowes reports…

CHIEF Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest), Mr. Keith Burrowes, has disclosed that investors have already started to query and express concern, both locally and internationally, about the non-passage of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Bill.He said they are questioning, as well, the decision taken by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), urging Caribbean nations to implement whatever mechanisms to protect their financial systems from money laundering and terrorism financing risks emanating from Guyana.

Mr. Keith Burrowes

Burrowes, in an invited comment to the Guyana Chronicle, noted that the major impact on investment is through the self-fulfilling prophecy of perception, where investors perceive that the risks arising from Guyana’s ‘name and shame’ by the CFATF and acting on such perceptions, would reduce their investments both locally and internationally, thus reducing economic growth of the country.
The Go-Invest CEO said that consultations are being sought, by its management, with the Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Anil Nandlall, and the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, to grant foreign investors some level of comfort by explaining that the matter is being examined and resolved from every possible angle.
Burrowes lamented that the advisory against Guyana will hamper development of the country and there is no doubt that this ‘name and shame’ advice will effectively be felt by the investment sector.
“Both local and foreign investments rely heavily on the movement of funds in and out of the country and this system of transfer will be impacted unless action is taken to resolve the current state of affairs.
Clear reduction
He added: “When I looked at the level of investment last year, as compared with this year, it has shown a clear reduction of investments based on the new measures that are being demanded for facilitating transactions.”
According to him, there is much perception on the part of investors for the implications of the advice, because those investors believe that it will negatively affect their investments and, as such, they have indicated that they will withhold theirs until the matter is resolved.
Burrowes, in consulting the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Anil Nandlall, recalled that the latter had said investors who remit monies to the head office would be negatively impacted by the advisory.
The Go-Invest CEO, having had communications with a number of investors, noted that they have asked for their investment agreements to be placed on hold until word has been given of the relief in circumstances.
Burrowes mentioned that the investment agency is currently evaluating the full extent of the damage done by the advisory since it is unclear, at this juncture, what levels of reduction in investments would be recorded.

(By Derwayne Wills)

CFATF tells members to limit business with Guyana

- Bill could be passed within 72hrs –  AFC

By Abena Rockcliffe

Guyana’s fate has been ultimately decided at the Regional level; the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) yesterday told its members that it considers the country to be a risk to the international financial system. The regional body has therefore advised the implementation of further counter measures to be taken against Guyana in order to protect financial systems from the “ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating from Guyana. As a consequence of failing to meet certain deadlines, CFATF has referred Guyana to its parent body, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which will take steps which may include Guyana being blacklisted at the international level.
This decision was made yesterday at the conclusion of CFATF’s plenary meeting which started on Monday in Miami, Florida.
CFATF reviewed the report submitted by Guyana which stated that “The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT) (Amendment) Bill 2013 was presented in Parliament on April 22, 2013.  The Bill seeks to address the legislative amendments required by the examiners’ recommended actions in the core and key Recommendations and a majority of the remaining outstanding Recommendations.
Following the legislative debate process in Parliament the AMLCFT (Amendment) Bill 2013 was rejected in November 2013.  The AMLCFT (Amendment) Bill was reintroduced in Parliament in December 2013 and has been subject to consideration by a Parliamentary Special Select Committee which is yet to complete its deliberations for the Parliament to enact the legislation.
As a result, the CFATF Plenary Meeting resolved that a Public Statement be issued in respect of Guyana.
The statement noted that Guyana is being sanctioned as a result of the country’s failure to meet the agreed timelines in its Action Plan.
“As a result of not meeting the agreed timelines in its Action Plan, the CFATF recognises Guyana as a jurisdiction with significant AML/CFT deficiencies, which has failed to make significant progress in addressing those deficiencies and the CFATF considers Guyana to be a risk to the international financial system. Members are therefore called upon to implement further counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating from Guyana. Also, the CFATF has referred Guyana to the FATF.
“Countermeasures could entail, among others, the requirement of enhanced due diligence measures; introducing enhanced reporting mechanisms or systematic reporting of financial transactions; refusing the establishment of subsidiaries or branches or representative offices in the country concerned, or otherwise taking into account the fact that the relevant financial institution is from a country that does not have adequate AML/CFT systems and limiting the business relationships or financial transactions with the identified country or persons in that country.”
CFATF is an organization of twenty-seven jurisdictions of the Caribbean Basin Region. It agreed to implement the international standards for Anti-money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), Financial Action Task Force Recommendations (FATF Recommendations).
In November 2011, CFATF brought to the attention of its Members, certain jurisdictions including Guyana with significant strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT regime. With a view to encouraging expeditious rectification of the identified strategic deficiencies, Guyana and the CFATF developed an Action Plan with identified target dates to address the strategic deficiencies that exist in Guyana’s national architecture to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The CFATF issued a public statement in May 2013 recommending Guyana to take steps to ensure that it addressed its AML/CFT deficiencies. Additionally, in November 2013, CFATF issued a further public statement calling upon its Members to consider implementing counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating from Guyana as a result of its AML/CFT deficiencies, in particular by: 1) fully criminalizing money laundering and terrorist financing offences, 2) addressing all the requirements on beneficial ownership, 3) strengthening the requirements for suspicious transaction reporting, international co-operation, and the freezing and confiscation of terrorist assets, and 4) fully implementing the UN conventions.
AFC SAYS Bill could be passed within 72 hours
Meanwhile, the Alliance for Change (AFC) sent a strong message to the government yesterday through the media, with Treasurer, Dominic Gaskin, stating that his party believes that the AML/CFT Amendment Bill could be passed within 72 hours if there is political will.
“It is time to cut the rhetoric and let us move things along. The people of Guyana demand no less of their leaders. The AFC proposes that a process to fast-track the operationalization of the Public Procurement Commission be implemented with the government naming two nominees to the Procurement Commission, A Partnership for National Unity naming two, and the AFC naming the other.”
Gaskin said these five names would be submitted to the Public Accounts Committee to ensure they meet the criteria for the Procurement Commission. This he proposed could be done within 24 hours. He outlined that the next stage of the process would see the National Assembly approving the nominees. Given the Government’s demand for Cabinet to retain a role in the award of contracts, the AFC has already indicated its willingness to compromise by amending Section 54 of the Procurement Act so that Cabinet’s right to raise an objection on the award of contracts is enshrined.
Once the House approves the nominees they could be sworn in.
“Following this, the Alliance for Change would have no hesitation in giving its support for the passage of the AML/CFT Bill,” said Gaskin.
Government maintains that the positions taken by the Opposition parties—A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance for Change (AFC)—are unfortunate, given the devastating consequences.
Aside from the government’s position, many entities have lamented the stalemate that characterized the Special Select Committee that was set up to address the AML/CFT Bill.
AFC leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, in a recent interview with this publication said “government will prefer its corruption in the absence of the Procurement Commission along with all the hardship that the Guyanese people will face with the anti money laundering bill not being passed, that is the caring nature of this government.”

CFATF to rule on possible blacklisting…

Attorney General Mr. Anil Nandlall

Guyana to know fate today

THE Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) will make its ruling today on the fate of the country, in relation to the possibility of it being referred to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), for review by the body’s International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG).This was according to Attorney-General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, in a telephone interview last evening.
Minister Nandlall maintained his assertion that Guyana, already blacklisted regionally by CFATF, is most likely to be referred to the international body, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force.
CFATF blacklisted Guyana regionally last November, at its 38th plenary meeting, issuing a missive which called for its members to “consider implementing counter measures to their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks” emanating from Guyana.
“From all indications it does not look optimistic and Guyana’s referral to FATF by CFATF appears to be a virtual certain,” Nandlall said, in a prior interview.
The AG stated that 90 per cent of the deficiencies in the local Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework, which were identified by CFATF are legislative in nature.
While Government contends that these deficiencies were wholly addressed in the AML/CFT Amendment Bill, it has still not received the support of the combined Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC), both of whom have attached conditions in exchange for their support.
APNU has proposed three amendments that proffer a change to the entire governing apparatus of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU); removal of the Attorney General wherever that name appears and replacement of it with the FIU and vesting a Police or Customs Officer with the power to seize currency from any person, anywhere in Guyana, if those officers have reason to believe that it is the proceeds of crime or will be used to fund criminal activities. The party is also calling for President Donald Ramotar to assent to Bills passed in the National Assembly, through the Opposition’s one-seat majority, but the Head of State has explained that they are unconstitutional.
The AFC, which has expressed support for APNU’s position, is demanding the establishment of the PPC (Public Procurement Commission), which Government has agreed to, providing that Cabinet retains its no-objection role in the process; but the latter position has been rejected by the AFC.
With neither of the two Parliamentary Opposition parties budging on their positions, the Attorney-General, on behalf of the Government, earlier this month forwarded counter-proposals in the interest of ensuring that the amendments made are CFATF compliant and to move towards a compromise.
These counter-proposals are being considered by the Parliamentary Select Committee, which has been reviewing the AML/CFT Bill for more than 12 months and held its most recent meeting last Thursday, May 22.
If the Committee were to complete its work before the next scheduled sitting of the National Assembly, June 19, the Financial Action Task Force’s next Plenary meeting is slated for June 23 to 25, 2014 in Paris, France.

(By Vanessa Narine)

 

 

AG’s interpretation of CFATF letter inaccurate – APNU

“Just like how Dr. Luncheon said he (Attorney General Nandlall) doesn’t speak for him, he doesn’t speak for us either, and I don’t respect any interpretation which he gives to this set of facts, because when somebody else looks at the same set of facts it’s entirely different.” Those were the words of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Executive Joseph Harmon as he spoke to the Attorney

APNU Executive Joseph Harmon

General (AG) Anil Nandlall’s interpretation of a letter sent by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) pronouncing on APNU’s amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Bill. Nandlall was quoted as saying that government sent the Opposition’s draft to CFATF “and as I predicted, the CFATF rejected every single one of the amendments that they are proposing.” However according to Harmon “his interpretation of a factual situation is erroneous and if the public were to be shown the letter which came from CFATF and he should also make public the letter which was sent to them, we would be able to make a careful interpretation as to what his interpretation is and whether it is correct.” “The Chairperson of CFATF, Allyson Maynard-Gibson, said when she came here she can only make a determination of compliance or non-compliance when documents are formally sent to them, either from the National Assembly process to the National Assembly or from the full committee of the Parliament. I don’t consider CFATF’s letter to be a binding interpretation about compliance and non-compliance, but he (Nandlall) interprets it to mean that our amendments are rejected when clearly it doesn’t say that,” Harmon noted. Kaieteur News was able to peruse the CFATF letter which was sent by its Executive Director Calvin Wilson on behalf of the Chairperson Gibson. The letter is a response to one that was sent by the Attorney General on May 7, 2014. The letter addressed to the Attorney General read that inter alia “any advice on proposed legislations has to be given in the context of the CFATF’s main role as the reviewer of the implementation of the AML/CFT standards by CFATF member countries and the need to maintain impartiality so as to ensure the integrity and objectivity of the Mutual Evaluation process.” “It should be noted that the FATF [Financial Action Task Force] standards are minimal requirements and in most instances do not stipulate specific detailed measures,” said Wilson. In the letter section 2(2) of the AML/CFT ACT 2009 amendment was also outlined, where APNU removed the wording “Attorney General” where it appeared and replaced it with the word “Director”. It wrote that because the functions of the Director of the FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit) are closely linked to the application for Court orders to seize and freeze criminal proceeds of the listed entities, and those functions are normally carried out by the Attorney General who is the legal advisor to the government. CFATF did not say that it was “wrong”, which the AG insinuated, but said that “FATF recommendations do not specify any person or competent authority as being required to assume the above role. The assignment of such responsibility is at the discretion of each jurisdiction and the CFATF cannot definitively advise any country on any particular alternative.” The letter also pronounced on the amendment to sections 8 and 9, establishing a AML/CFT Authority where members will be appointed by the National Assembly, removing the powers of the Minister to appoint the Director and the power of the President to dismiss the Director, and placing these powers within the Authority, which will also be responsible for overseeing the operations of the FIU. CFTAF in the letter outlined that the said amendment appears to undermine “the autonomy of the FIU.” The body said that the proposed amendment which gives the AML/CFT Authority the power to “appoint and terminate the Director and Deputy Director without parameters will raise serious questions about the ability of these officials to perform their functions without undue influence.”

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

Wilson outlined further in the letter that “there is a need to consider whether the proposed structure and membership of the AML/CFT Authority will result in an effective means of appointing the Director and allow for the termination of appointment on the basis of just cause and not allow for undue influence.” Speaking to APNU’s amendment to extend the powers of a police officer or customs officers to seize and detain cash $10M or more anywhere in Guyana once the proceeds are suspected to be derived from illegal means, CFATF said among other things that the amendment “is a possible measure that can be instituted to comply with the obligations, and as such the CFATF cannot offer advice indicating a preference.” CFATF in the letter expressed also that “similar provisions are in place in Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines with safeguards which include limiting the initial period of seizures to hours and requesting approval for any extension of the period.” Nandlall had said in the media that the seizure of cash amendment “was rejected on the basis that it was not part of the requirement and that it is a completely unnecessary imposition.” According to Harmon, Nandlall’s interpretation “is the kind of subterfuge, double standards that we have had to put up with…Dealing with people in high office who can look at a clear set of words and give it a different meaning altogether. He is doing a disservice to the government; he is doing a disservice to the President, because when he does this thing and when it comes out then they want to know: Is this man on a different cloud?” Harmon who is also on the Parliamentary Special Select Committee to iron out the concerns of the AML/CFT Bill before it reaches the National Assembly said that “this is not the interpretation I would give to that letter”. “As a member of the Committee I am disgusted over the actions of the AG to try to hoodwink us; try to again fool the Guyanese public to believe as the Opposition we do not know what we are doing.”

CFATF rejects Opposition amendments

The political opposition continues to prevaricate (quibble), even as Guyana is days away from facing estrangement from 190 countries for failing to pass the critically needed Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCT) Bill. This Bill incorporates the recommendations of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, speaking on the National Communications Network (NCN) yesterday, said that the Select Committee considering the Bill was not able to meet over the last two weeks because “the Opposition members have manufactured one reason after one another for their unavailability to meet.”
At the meeting yesterday, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) failed to show up. Khemraj Ramjattan from the Alliance For Change (AFC) was present.
Guyana is required to have the Bill passed on or before May 26 or be declared non grata by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to its member states as a country that is non-cooperative in the global fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism. “This now seems a given,” Minister Nandlall said.
“All these amendments that they have proposed are in relation to the Principal Act, the Principal Act that they passed unanimously in the Ninth parliament. Now they have some epiphany and they want now to change all of these things which are not the recommendations of CFATF.” Nandlall said, “So it would appear at this point that it is unlikely that the Bill will be passed. What I presume or what I predict would transpire at the CFTAF meeting from May 26 is that simply a decision would be made to give effect to the decision which was already made at the November 2013 plenary. Guyana shall be recommended to the Financial Action Task Force in Paris, France for an ICRG (International Cooperation Review Group) review…and that in essence is the blacklisting we are speaking about,” he added.
Guyana has missed two deadlines to pass the CFATF cut-off date to pass the legislation; one on November 28, 2013 and the other on February 28, 2014. Guyana failed to meet the first time limit after the opposition used their one-seat majority in the National Assembly to vote down the bill, which led to the country being blacklisted at the regional level.
The second failure was due to the opposition at the last moment, proposing amendments, which are not related to the CFATF compliant Bill, but to the Principal Act, which was passed in 2009.
Minister Nandlall reported yesterday that CFTAF has rejected the Opposition’s amendments. After the CFTAF Chairperson Allyson Maynard-Gibson and the Executive Director of CFATF met with both the government and Leader of the Opposition and outlined the importance of passing the Bill and the consequences that would flow following non-compliance, the Government of Guyana was invited to send to the CFTAF for examination by its technical personnel for compliance, a copy of both the Government’s draft and the Opposition’s draft of the legislation, he explained.
In an effort to arrive at compromise, Minister Nandlall had presented counter proposals to the opposition’s recommendations.
For the reason that Government’s amendments were already approved by CFTAF, Minister Nandlall said that Government sent a covering letter along with the Opposition’s draft to the CFTAF, “and as I predicted, the CFTAF rejected every single one of the amendments that they are proposing,” he said.
One of the proposals calls for a removal of the role of the Attorney General from the process. “The CFTAF’s answer to that suggestion was that it is wrong. The Attorney General is put there because he/she is legal advisor to the Government and would be recipient of all legal materials that would come into the Government’s position in relation to its relations with organisations such as the United Nations Security Council and other international organisations.
“And it is the Attorney General that will have to go to court for and behalf of the Government to seek certain orders to give effect to the Government’s obligation  under various treaties, and therefore the Office of the Attorney General is important in the legislative apparatus of the AMLCFT regime,” Minister Nandlall explained.
The Opposition also proposed that Parliament appoint an authority to oversee and supervise the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), its operations and officers.
Government has long maintained that this type of mechanism would undermine the functional autonomy of the FIU which by all international standards must be functionally independent and autonomous in the discharge of its day to day function, and as well, must be free and insulated from political interference and influence both apparent and real, a view shared by CFTAF. Minister Nandlall said that CFTAF has rejected as well this proposal.
“The CFTAF’s advice on that particular proposal of the Opposition was that it does not meet the international standards, that the mechanism for appointment is politically contaminated and that the method or the mechanism that it creates removes from the FIU and its staff and directors that important requisite autonomy and functional independence,” Minister Nandlall disclosed.
The third condemnation relates to what was submitted of the Opposition’s draft with regards to seizure of cash. This was rejected on the basis that it was not part of the requirement and that it is a completely unnecessary imposition, Minister Nandlall said. (GINA)