Aug 06, 2013 News Comments Off on Guyana to miss deadline for anti-money laundering act
– “Blacklisting appears to be an inevitable consequence”- AG Nandlall
– “Government itself is tainted by criminalities that bedevil our system”- Carl Greenidge
By Abena Rockcliffe
“Blacklisting of Guyana appears to be an inevitable consequence,” were the words used by Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, as he last evening commented on the fact that Guyana will miss the deadline for amending the legislation with respect to the amended Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act.
On the other hand, members of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) told Kaieteur News that Guyana is already “dark gray listed” and that the Government itself is linked to acts of money laundering. It was also noted that the party doesn’t believe that the August 26 deadline really does exist.
An APNU statement released last evening, said that at the meeting, “the Opposition members (who were all in attendance) objected to the manner in which the committee chair Ms. Gail Teixeira was attempting to conclude the work of the committee, without giving full consideration to serious issues raised by members of the committee and Guyanese citizens in general”.
However, when contacted by this newspaper, Teixeira said that the Opposition came out in “full force,” and adorned the committee’s proceedings. The long-time politician dubbed it an act of bullyism. She told Kaieteur News last night that the opposition members had seen all the documents to show the deadline and they are fully aware of the consequences of missing it.
The Committee consists of nine members, four representing the government, four of APNU and one of the AFC.
At yesterday’s meeting, former Minister of Finance Carl Greenidge moved a motion to adjourn it until October. The APNU member’s motion was seconded by Alliance For Change (AFC)’s Khemraj Ramjattan.
In an invited comment, APNU’s shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams said that the works of the committee haven’t gone anywhere yet “but they (Government representatives) want to railroad it through.”
He told Kaieteur News that plans were made on how to go about the work of the committee, but the government chose not to follow it.
According to Williams, the “artificial deadline” is not a threat to APNU since Guyana is already on a “dark gray list” He added that more people are to make presentations to the committee, including the Bar Association.
In addition to the points made by Williams, Greenidge pointed out that “there was a September deadline, then an October one, now the August one.
“We (APNU) feel that if the government felt that the deadline was so crucial, what is necessary would have been done to ensure timely completion.”
Greenidge raised a concern that the draft didn’t take into consideration “aspects” that the opposition is of the opinion need to be taken into consideration.
He said that the act of itself has several inadequacies and the draft as well is insufficient.
“As usual all the power is placed in the hands of the executive…Government appoints the Commissioner of Police, the head of Customs, the judges; it basically arranges the appointments of those who will supervise the operation.”
Further, Greenidge asserted that “Government itself is tainted by criminalities that bedevil our system…The PPP have been accused, and in some cases, proven to have associations with people who have been charged with all sorts of criminalities like fraud and money laundering in the United States. The government is very friendly with these types of people.”
The former finance Minister said that the current legislation should have allowed the government to deal with incidents of money laundering, but doesn’t.
He said that on every street there is a business that one can easily point out as one that isn’t profitable. He said that those are clearly vehicles for money laundering.
Nandlall, in whose name the Bills stand, told Kaieteur News that during the course of the committee’s work, the opposition hardly attended.
“In fact Ramjattan missed over 80% of the meetings and APNU, who had four members, did not have full complement of their membership more than two times. Most of the meetings were attended by one member only. Then they used a statement attributed to the president, in which they misrepresented what the president said, as the basis to boycott the last few meetings. The government side nevertheless persevered to the end and considered all the clauses in the Bill one by one and took into account and examined the submissions which came from the invited stakeholders.”
“I outlined this background to demonstrate that from the inception the opposition set out to deliberately sabotage the work of this committee and to intentionally expose Guyana as a nation to the regime of sanctions which are imposed on nations that are non-compliant.”
He said that the opposition’s actions prove that the undertaking it had given that it would support the Bill if granted more time was one that was designed to simply fool the Guyanese people and the diplomatic community.
“Because at the end they got all the time as requested yet didn’t support the Bill…Black listing of Guyana will appear to be an inevitable consequence.”
Guyana was given a deadline to comply with the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce (CFATF) recommendations to amend its Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Laws.
Only after the work of the committee is completed and a revised Bill presented to the National Assembly along with a report from the committee, can the Bill be voted upon and passed.
Last month, CFATF confirmed Guyana’s deadline for amending the legislation with respect to the amended Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act.
Roger Hernandez, Financial Advisor of CFATF had told Kaieteur News that amendments to the legislation have to be passed in the National Assembly and enacted before August 26, so that it could be submitted and analysed.
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