Oct 19, 2013 News
– Private sector urges speedy passage
The Opposition remains firm in its position not to make way for passage of the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMT/CFT) Bill unless it is sure that Guyana is being given the best legislation, capable enough to deal with a range of white collar crimes. This is even in the face of pleas from the Private Sector Commission (PSC).
Yesterday the PSC published a whole page advertisement indicating the impact that the absence of the Bill is having on businesses.
The advertisement asked that parliamentarians “approve the measures in whatever form to avoid the disastrous effects on the country’s business sector and the average Guyanese citizen.”
A Partnership for National Unity (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.”
Moreso, yesterday at a press conference held at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, Granger said that while his coalition is aware of the Private Sector’s concerns, it “should as well direct its criticisms to the government, because it is responsible for the situation we have been in over the last four years.”
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.
PSC’s ad sought to notify the public of the potential impact of failure to implement the Anti-money laundering measures.
It stated, “Guyana has been analyzed and has not made sufficient progress in addressing the deficiencies of our anti-money laundering measures and has not complied with the Action Plan developed with the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).”
It said that as a result of the country’s failure to pass the anti-money laundering legislation by the set deadline, some countries are already implementing sanctions.
While highlighting some of the current effects on the country, the PSC informed that the Trinidad and Tobago Central Bank has issued a letter to the commercial banks in Trinidad and Tobago regarding doing business with Guyana and engaging in foreign currency transactions. This letter, whilst cautionary in nature, has caused companies in Trinidad and Tobago to step up scrutiny of Guyanese companies with which they do business.
Resulting directly from this, the PSC said that at the moment, there are reports of companies not being able to re-insure. It said that this will impact the ability of persons and businesses to obtain insurance or to be reimbursed in the event of a disaster. It added that the inability to obtain insurance would have a deleterious effect upon those seeking or servicing mortgages.
Many questions are now being asked regarding the legitimacy of companies and the legitimacy of Guyanese transactions that are usually routine and normal. It said that this has resulted in a burdensome process for transactions such as purchasing a single foreign currency draft which now includes the completion of lengthy forms and the performance of due diligence for each transaction.
Nevertheless, Granger and his party won’t budge. When asked about the specific amendments that APNU is proposing to be part of the Bill, Granger said that he was unable to answer since the coalition has not “finished taking evidence from the stakeholders.”
However, he informed that it is advocating the strengthening of the Government established body, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which is for requesting, receiving, analyzing and disseminating of suspicious transaction reports and other information relating to money laundering, terrorist financing or the proceeds of crime.
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.
“It was well known that the Act was inadequate and the FIU knew that it was incapable of performing its function. It was not a discovery that was made last April. That is why we are where we are now, because of the deficiencies of the Act and the deficiencies in the enforcement of the Act by the Government of Guyana,” Granger said.
APNU’s Shadow Minister of Finance had noted that the PPP itself is guilty of the very criminalities that are currently “bedeviling our nation.” His reference was to the government’s links to the likes of Roger Khan and Ed Ahmad.
During that interview with Kaieteur News, Greenidge said that the Opposition is really seeking to make sure that the Bill when passed, is tight enough to deal with even the government.
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