Anti-money laundering bill…Trinidad implements measures against Guyana

October 20, 2013 | By | Filed Under News 

Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, said that Trinidad and Tobago has mistakenly sought to implement measures against Guyana thinking that the country has been blacklisted by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).
Nandlall opined that this reason caused that country to have its Central Bank send out an advisory informing the business sector that it should take the necessary counter measures against Guyana.
He said that as a result of this development, for a few days now business transactions between the two countries were severely affected.
Nandlall said that many transactions have also come to an abrupt halt, and that in some cases credit cards have been recalled.
He explained that in countries that have been blacklisted, International banks that have had relationships with banks in the blacklisted country would terminate the relationship.
The Minister also noted that bank to bank transfer of money either ceased or were subjected to intense scrutiny which took several days and sometimes weeks to be concluded.
He said that transfer agencies such as Western Union and Money Gram have also been affected.
The Legal Affairs Minister has accused the opposition of staying away from Select Committee meetings and employing delay tactics as Government continues to push for the passage of the amendments to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill.
The Minister yesterday told Kaieteur News, that when the Select Committee meetings re-started the Alliance for Change (AFC) leader Khemraj Ramjattan was absent.
Nandlall said that the APNU representatives who were present were engaged in a “host of filibustering” tactics to delay the work of the Committee.
“I see the Leader of the Opposition David Granger saying that the APNU wants a good Bill but unfortunately after six months in Select Committee his party cannot put forward  a single proposal in writing,” said Nandlall.
The Minister further stressed that it appears that Granger is saying one thing in the press but nothing is followed up when they are in meetings.
What is significant, the Minister said, was that it is the Select Committee that captures the recommendations which Guyana is expected to implement.
He maintained that Government did not whimsically concoct the Bill and the provisions of the Bill have already been examined and approved by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).
Nandlall noted that if the Bill is not passed then Guyana would be declared non compliant.
Other countries would then be invited to impose counter measures against Guyana on transactions emanating from here to protect themselves and their businesses from the money laundering and terrorism risks which Guyana would be regarded as “opposing”.
Meanwhile President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Clinton Urling, yesterday encouraged the Government and the Opposition to work together to get the Bill passed.
Urling told Kaieteur News that the passage of the Bill should not be made to be look as though it is complex. It is an issue that should be dealt with speedily, he added.
He said that the non passage of the Bill will have serious ramifications in the business sector.
Some of the major sectors such as mining would feel the ‘squeeze” once the Bill is not passed, according to the GCCI President.
Urling said that this could tarnish Guyana’s look on the International scene, by hesitating to pass this important Bill.
Importantly Urling said that this Bill would add transparency, thus corruption would somewhat be reduced. He described the Bill as being a “win win” situation once it is passed.
He also noted that the GCCI has been having numerous meetings with Government along with the Opposition to quickly resolve the issue.
On Friday APNU remained firm in its position not to make way for the passage of the Bill unless it is sure that Guyana is being given the best legislation, capable enough to deal with a range of white collar crimes.
APNU Leader, Brigadier David Granger, had long held the position that this Bill “must” address all the inadequacies of the first piece of legislation and not be just another ornament “just to say we have it.”
He reminded that while the Act had been in existence for the past four years, the amendments were only brought to the National Assembly in April 2013 and the Opposition was asked to approve certain amendments by May.
Granger said that his party needs to “get a closer look at the Act and get advice from the stakeholders” and is not prepared to make any sudden moves.
He said that the Opposition is specifically concerned about the circumstances leading to the appointment of the Head of the FIU, the body’s staffing and its ability to actually conduct investigations. He reminded that while the FIU was in place, it was the CFTAF that called the deficiencies of the Act to the Government’s attention.

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