Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, has announced that Government is prepared to return the rejected Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill to Parliament in an attempt to have it enacted.
This, he said, is in an effort to ensure that the nation complies with the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce (CFATF) recommendations and to seek to have Guyana cleared from its blacklisted status.
He was at the time hosting his weekly press engagement at Office of the President. He was reluctant to speculate on whether government would lend support to having the Bill re-committed once again to a Special Select Committee.
“At this point, a commitment to take the Bill to Parliament is what the administration is pursuing. What happens there is of course a matter that cannot be a matter of speculation.”
Dr. Luncheon maintained that Government’s interest is and continues to be, the enactment of the amendments to the anti money laundering bill.
He said that it is the failure on the part of the Parliament to approve the Bill that provided the “basis for our blacklisting.”
That Bill, he said, represents as much as 98 per cent of the outstanding recommendations that the mutual evaluation mechanism had thrown up.
“We will commit as we have done, to have a CFATF endorsed amendment Bill enacted during the 10th Parliament.”
Dr Luncheon said that when Cabinet met on Tuesday, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, apprised the council of ministers on what would have transpired during the November 18 to November 21, 2013 CFATF plenary in the Bahamas.
Nandlall and Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Paul Geer, represented Guyana at the review.
Dr Luncheon said that the AG pointed out to Cabinet, the significant presence of extra regional interests’ and stakeholders who are involved in Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) international circles “which cover the entire globe and significantly, extra regional participation at this CFATF plenary.”
Nandlall reported on the basis for the decision taken by CFATF.
Importantly, he pointed out that the form of sanctions that could be taken against Guyana would reside in the participating member countries.
As a result, he said that the Government of Guyana’s reaction to the conclusion of the plenary of CFATF is that there is little option but to return the rejected anti money laundering amendment Bill to Parliament at an early opportunity.
Confronted with one of the opposition’s concerns that in part caused it to withhold support, namely the inadequacies of the FIU, Dr. Luncheon was asked to explain what happened to the 807 reports of suspicious transactions sent to that unit last year.
He said that the FIU would assess the reports and determine which of these warranted investigation by the DPP.
He was unable to say definitively what if anything happened with the 807 reports.
According to Dr. Luncheon, “The old Act saw the DPP being vested with the responsibility to investigate… we will now need to investigate whether the 807 referrals from the FIU got to the DPP for investigation by that office.”
He announced however, that with the setting up of a Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), this body will be exclusively vested with the investigation of the suspicious transactions that the FIU would have decided to refer to it.
SOCU is to be established and operationalised under the Commissioner of Police.
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