Financial Advisor from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), Roger Hernandez, stressed that passing the new Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) (Amendment) Bill is not good enough. It must be implemented!
Laws passed without implementation and enforcement are useless, toothless and an exercise in wasted time. Guyana already has an AML/CFT law and FIU in place for several years. Yet, in this country of drug trafficking gone wild, with Mexican and Colombian cartels and the Italian mafia now operating freely here and billions laundered every year, a single case of money laundering against these criminal interests has not been pursued by the FIU.
Mr. Hernandez has his job to do, which is to ensure these laws are passed by the countries that form part of CFATF. However, he truly has to get real about the realities of implementation and enforcement of this proposed AML/CFT legislation in Guyana. If the PPP has not implemented and given force to the existing AML/CFT law for several years, what makes anyone think it will do so for a new law?
For Mr. Hernandez’s organization, implementation is largely about meeting minimum standards. If the new AML/CFT calls for a monitoring agency, the country simply has to set up one and they have fulfilled their mandate to the CFATF. It does not matter that this agency is politically manipulated and castrated and lacks oversight or does absolutely nothing. This is what happened with the existing FIU.
Therein lies the problem between international obligations and local demands. There is nothing wrong in exceeding those minimum standards when the people of the country, buckling under the weight of criminality, drug trafficking, money laundering and its cruel manifestations, want more than just rubber-stamping mute agencies.
Exceeding the minimum is what the opposition has to do. Parliamentary approval of the FIU director and the creation of the Procurement Commission are two elements of going past minimum standard to make the new AML/CFT capable of enforcement. The US Senate must confirm the Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence who oversees their version of the FIU, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). So, what is wrong with what the opposition proposes?
Money laundering companies are likely using their unfair and illegal financial advantage to secure government contracts in a corrupt public procurement system, so why shouldn’t we have the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) in conjunction with a stronger AML/CFT legislation to combat this scourge which denies legitimate companies? The stop and search provision is extreme, especially with a corrupt police force. Unless APNU is willing to put serious restrictions on that power along with protection, it cannot be entertained.
Should we really pass this watered-down, politically-fingered version of the AML/CFT the PPP wants us to pass, when we could pass an AML/CFT law with teeth working alongside a PPC to combat money laundering?
The PPP wants this version to be passed quickly to avoid sanctions and scrutiny. They don’t want the opposition’s version because they lose political control over the monitoring of money laundering and they know the opposition will push a FIU director appointed by Parliament to actually investigate money launderers, some of whom may make some damning public disclosures of who their friends and beneficiaries are.
How could anyone oppose stronger scrutiny mechanisms in the proposed AML/CFT when we all know that money laundering companies are essentially using cheap blood money to drive legitimate companies off the playing field? Minimum standards have failed in Guyana. Time for stronger medicine. The opposition must stick to its guns. Sanctions and increased monitoring are already putting the world’s glare on the crooks in Guyana. Some are now being watched because of sanctions.
Guyana cannot be a minimum standard country on money laundering. Not when drug trafficking and money laundering are destroying this country and causing inflation, ruining the lives of the majority poor who are paying more for basic food.
An opposition worth its salt must respond to this growing danger to improve the standard of living for the working class of this country. The PPP did nothing with the existing AML/CFT law. In fact, from the time the current AML/CFT law was passed to today, drug trafficking, theft of public resources, corruption and money laundering have been at its greatest surge and sits now at its peak. Even Roger Khan’s cartel did not seemingly have the ambitions of these present kingpins seeking to export US$1 billion in cocaine with the feared Mexican cartels and the Italian mob in tow.
The PPP continues to do nothing as crime puts this country under the gun. An opposition cannot act in good faith to allow this situation to continue. It must fight for the soul of this country if the PPP is prepared to hand it over to criminality. It must protect the sovereignty of the people against the rise of the cartels and the destruction they are willing to create for profit.
The days of the FIU playing political poodle must end. As it stands today, there is more monitoring now of money laundering with these sanctions than ever before. Foreign criminal indictments are probably already prepared on some individuals. To pass the PPP’s version of the AML/CFT is to end this monitoring and return us to the orgy of money laundering. To continue this level of monitoring, we must implement the opposition’s proposals.