May 31, 2013 News Comments Off on Anti-money laundering legislation…Regional body threatens sanctions if November deadline not met
A regional body overseeing the implementation of counter measures to halt the flow of dirty money has warned Guyana of sanctions if the country fails to meet a revised deadline of November.
Guyana was this week allowed an extension by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), after the National Assembly failed to pass key legislation in time for a critical evaluation meeting in Managua, Nicaragua.
A statement by the 29-state organization sends a clear message of how serious the legislation is to help countries track illegal money.
“If Guyana does not take specific steps by November 2013, then the CFATF will identify Guyana as not taking sufficient steps to address its AML/CFT deficiencies and will take the additional steps of 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, and at that time CFATF will consider referring Guyana to the Financial Action Task Force International Cooperation Review Group (FATF ICRG),” the regional body said.
Guyana, in a last-ditch effort to avert sanctions, sent Attorney General Anil Nandlall, and Paul Geer, head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the entity which is tasked locally with investigating money crimes, to Nicaragua to ask a review panel for an extension.
The Opposition refused to pass amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2013 (AML/CFT), claiming it wants to review it first. It was sent to a Special Select Committee.
The Opposition – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance For Change (AFC) – accused the government of dragging its feet and waiting for the last moment to bring it before the National Assembly.
According to the CFATF statement, in November 2011, the body brought to the attention of its member states, including Guyana, that there were significant strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT regime.
“With a view to encouraging expeditious rectification of the identified strategic deficiencies, the CFATF, in conjunction with Guyana, developed an action plan with identified target dates to address the strategic deficiencies that existed in its national architecture to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.”
CFATF acknowledged that Guyana took steps towards improving its AML/CFT compliance regime, including strengthening its record-keeping requirements and functionality of its Financial Intelligence Unit.
But Guyana failed in making critical changes to its particular laws.
“However, the CFATF has determined that Guyana has failed to make sufficient progress in addressing its significant strategic AML/CFT deficiencies, including certain legislative reforms.” The body noted that Guyana has introduced an amendment bill into Parliament to address the deficiencies. “CFATF encourages Guyana to urgently approve and implement these legislative amendments.”
The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) is an organisation of 29 states of the Caribbean Basin which have agreed to implement common countermeasures to address the problem of criminal money laundering. It was established as the result of meetings convened in Aruba in May 1990 and Jamaica in November 1992.
The amendment to the law is designed to force better record-keeping of financial transactions by money transfer agencies, banks, cambios and other financial institutions, to flag suspicious activities. It will also strengthen the capacity of countries to prosecute and even seize assets that are proceeds of illegal activities, including drugs and arms smuggling.
CFATF and other similar agencies believe that by targeting the money trail, it would hamper drug trafficking and other illegal activities.
Guyana has not made any notable arrests for money laundering or seen any major seizures of assets that came from money laundering activities.
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