Nov 26, 2013 News
Attorney General Anil Nandlall reporting on his recent meeting with the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) in Bahamas confirmed that Guyana is blacklisted.
According to Nandlall, Guyana has been identified along with Belize as countries with Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing (AML/CFT) deficiencies and which have not made the necessary advancement to address or comply with the “action plan” developed with the CFATF to curb the established deficiencies.
As such Nandlall said that CFATF had called on its members to implement counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing AML/CFT “risks emanating from Guyana.”
The Attorney General, at a press briefing held yesterday at Freedom House, said that he has observed the “debate” in the press as to whether Guyana is blacklisted and added that the term “blacklisting” is not the official dictionary language used by CFATF but is an expression that is used by countries that have been deficient with the regulations and guidelines circulated by CFATF.
“What sanctions are going to be imposed on Guyana I am not sure. You would observe from the language of the statement used, countries are invited to impose whatever counter measures they may deem fit to protect themselves from the risks that Guyana now poses” said Nandlall.
The CFATF meeting in the Bahamas attracted over 100 persons representing 29 countries that fall under CFATF jurisdiction. They included every country in the Caribbean as well as every country in Central America.
He said that the meeting also saw representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, Inter American Development Bank (IDB) and Interpol. Representatives from the American, British, Canadian, Spanish, and French Governments were represented at the meeting.
According to Nandlall, “What is important, though, is that Guyana has been effectively blacklisted by the CFATF along with Belize.
“If the requisite amendments are not passed in the National Assembly and other identified deficiencies not rectified on or before May 2014 which is the next plenary meeting of the CFATF, the task force has said that it will pass Guyana over to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for an International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) review to begin in respect of the identified deficiency.”
Nandlall said that if Guyana gets subjected to this process it will take several years to effectively go through the motions and all the while will remain blacklisted. He added that Guyana will also be written to by CFATF indicating some of the consequences that Guyana will “have to face because of its current deficient status.”
“Another important factor that I must point out is the FATF is scheduled to meet in February of 2014 and quite apart from any recommendations that CFATF may make at its plenary meeting in May, the FATF can independently and on its own accord, identify Guyana for a review to begin and that can take place as early as February.
“The emphatic point that must be made is that the amendments which have been rejected by the Opposition in the Assembly ought to be tasked even before February so that Guyana will no longer be a country with those identified deficiencies,” Nandlall articulated.
According to Nandlall, it is too early to gauge what the consequences are going to be. However, if the Bill is passed before February or May then Guyana will be able remove itself from the blacklist and be restored to “some level of normalcy”.
But if that does not happen and Guyana passes the other deadline then it will be handed over to the FATF which is the head body located in France to take charge of Guyana since at that stage the country would have gone to a very advanced stage in failing to comply with the requirements and policies of the regulatory body.
Nandlall did say that before the statement came out that Guyana was blacklisted, Trinidad, thinking that Guyana was blacklisted a month before sent a circular out to their commercial institutions advising them to deal with Guyana “with some degree of circumspection and drawing their attention to the fact that Guyana has been declared to be non complaint by FATF.” He said that he is aware that a commercial Bank operating in the United States that shared a relationship with a Bank in Guyana has terminated that relationship. He added that Belize is in the same position with Guyana with a US bank, Wells Fargo, writing to the Belizean Central Bank indicating that it will “withdraw” from Belize.
Speaking on the way forward Nandlall said that the government on its own volition cannot table the bill back in Parliament, “because tabling the Bill back in Parliament requires a consensual position between the government and at least one of the two main opposition parties.”
“The entire standing order will be suspended to allow the Bill to go back. If you’re not putting the Bill back without receiving the support, then we would be putting ourselves in greater difficulty.”
According to Nandlall, “The government accepts no responsibility whatsoever for the rejection of the Bill by the National Assembly of Guyana. The government tabled the Bill, the government sought every opportunity available to secure the support of the Opposition and all government’s efforts were rejected. The bill was voted down by the joint Opposition.”
According to the Attorney General, “What we have to understand is that there is a world out there that cares very little about the internal politics of Guyana. The issue was raised about our internal problems and I was told quite frankly and candidly that it is a jurisdictional responsibility. Organizations like CFATF and FATF are unconcerned about the internal politics of a country. So they care less about our little problem that we have.”
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