Guyana misses FATF deadline – International blacklisting looms

Feb 11, 2014

The Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) will today conclude its International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) in Paris, France but Guyana has failed to debate or vote for the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill.

While many expected the Bill to be returned to the House from the Special Select Committee, this did not obtain. The committee is yet to complete its work and will meet again Wednesday evening.

Chairperson of the Committee, Gail Teixeira, told members of the media that the political opposition is adamant that it will not return the Bill to the House until their amendments to the Principal Act are included in the Bill.

She said that there is consensus in the Committee, on the amendments recommended by the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce (CFATF) but the other amendments to the Principal Act are stalling the process.

The Committee met yesterday and according to Teixeira, Government by way of a motion, proposed that the Bill be tabled in the House with just the CFATF recommendations but this was roundly rejected.

Teixeira suggested that because the amendments brought by the Opposition on Sunday evening were quite complex and would have a lot of implications, the draftsmen could not complete the draft by yesterday morning.
The Government is of the opinion that the Opposition amendments can be brought subsequently in another Bill but the Opposition is adamant that all, those recommended by CFATF and those amendments to the principal act be taken to the House at one time.

At the end of yesterday’s meeting, a motion led to adjourn the sessions for an indefinite period was initially proposed but this was amended to tomorrow evening.

At this time it is expected that the draftsmen would have completed the final draft for the Bill which would be taken to the House as soon as possible thereafter.

In the final analysis, according to Teixeira, the work of the Committee has not been completed and is now on a temporary pause.

Meanwhile, the Alliance For Change (AFC), yesterday publicly reiterated its support for the Anti Money Laundering Amendment Bill but underlines that its support is hinged to the setting up of the constitutionally mandated Public Procurement Commission.

By way of a public missive yesterday, the AFC said that “without the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission, the (anti-money laundering Bill) is a half-baked attempt to stem the flow of illicit gains.”

The AFC maintains that apart from the proceeds from illicit drugs, bribery, kickbacks and payoffs form the main artery feeding corrupt officials and draining away the lifeblood of poor, ordinary taxpayers.

It said that since the passage of the original Anti Money Laundering legislation there has been little or no implementation. “There is no reason to believe that there will be any implementation of a revamped Bill…The AFC’s position is that the flow of illicit funds must be stemmed at its source; in the award of contracts, and this will only happen when the Public Procurement Commission is established…If the legislature wants to demonstrate its full commitment to stamping out money laundering it will act to ensure a fully functioning PPC.”

Guyana currently shares the worst rating in the world with Mozambique, as it relates to the list of countries under FATF to be reviewed.

According to official FATF records seen by this publication, Guyana heads the list of the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG).

That group includes countries such as Guyana, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Haiti, Cameroon, Aruba, Benin, Fiji and Zambia.

Last November, the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce (CFATF) issued a public statement with regard to two of its members which are also in the ICRG pool—Belize and Guyana.

“The publication of the CFATF statement on the FATF website does not constitute an official endorsement by the FATF…However, this public statement contains relevant information that countries and the private sector, as part of their implementation of the risk-based approach, should be aware of.”

The CFATF statement on Guyana had said that Guyana has made efforts to address its deficiencies, however, it has not taken sufficient steps towards reforms.

CFATF at the time was adamant that Guyana must pass the relevant legislation and implement all the outstanding issues within its Action Plan including fully criminalizing money laundering and terrorist financing offences; addressing all the requirements on beneficial ownership; strengthening the requirements for suspicious transaction reporting, international co-operation, and the freezing and confiscation of terrorist assets, and fully implementing the UN conventions.

Guyana is yet to meet the legislative obligations namely the passage of the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Amendment Bill.

The three political parties have been haggling for months on end over the Bill which has again been sent to a special select committee of Parliament.