– APNU insists on critical changes
Guyana will not be automatically removed from the current blacklisted status it currently holds with the mere passage of the amendments to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Bill.
This was confirmed by the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce’s (CFATF) representative, Roger Hernandez, following his extensive meeting yesterday.
At the Public Buildings he met with the members of the Special Select Committee tasked with addressing the amendments to the Bill.
CFATF submitted a number of recommendations following a review of Guyana’s legislation but the political opposition, specifically A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is making changes.
Last evening, Hernandez was asked specifically if with the passage of Bill Guyana would be removed from the current CFATF blacklist.
Hernandez response was a resounding “no” and he added that what is required is implementation.
“You require implementation; it is not just passing the law. It is about implementing the law,” according to Hernandez.
He said that the main concern by the political opposition was whether the amendments were compliant with the CFATF requirements.
Hernandez said, too, that Guyana also wanted a clarification on the International Financial Action Task Force on Guyana.
Junior Finance Minister, Bishop Juan Edghill emphatically stated that everything that Government has been saying regarding the process, deadlines and consequences has been corroborated by the CFATF representative.
According to Edghill, everything the opposition has been saying, accusing the government of lying about the process, deadlines and consequences have all been debunked by Hernandez.
He added that Hernandez, made it clear to the Committee that the drop dead date for Guyana to submit its report to CFATF is February 28.
The National Assembly is set to meet the day before where it is possible that the Bill would come up for debate and a vote.
Chief Financial Spokesperson for A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Carl Greenidge, in an invited comment yesterday said that nothing that Hernandez told the Committee would persuade the opposition to vote for the amendments to the Bill in its current construct. The amendments that the opposition has insisted on would have to be included.
According to Greenidge, the CFATF representative did indicate to the Committee that while it is satisfied with the amendments that government is pushing, nothing stops the National Assembly from putting into place in the legislation, measures for oversight of the monitoring bodies such as the Financial Intelligence Unit.
Greenidge reminded this publication that it was he who requested of Government to meet directly with CFTAF given the concerns the opposition had with the constant shifting of deadline dates and the impending apocalypse that would ensue should they be missed.
He noted that government continued shifting deadlines, wanting the amendments voted on hurriedly and when the deadlines are missed there would be a lengthy lapse before another is presented.
Greenidge said that Hernandez explained the shifting deadlines and implications.
He reported that Hernandez did point out that CFATF would require a report by February 28.
Greenidge said that there will be a CFATF meeting in May which will then be followed by another in June, by the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) which would decide whether to submit Guyana for a review by the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF).
“That is now clear,” according to Greenidge, but he said that what is also clear is that the February 28 deadline is not one for the Opposition but rather for the President, given that he has to address, within the remaining days, the outstanding issues that the opposition has set as preconditions for a favourable vote.
“It is a deadline for the President,” said Greenidge.
Greenidge maintained that nothing Hernandez said will see the opposition putting the Bill to a vote without its (opposition) amendments.
He said that the opposition still has serious concerns with issues such as the autonomy and composition of the Financial Intelligence Unit.
Greenidge said that Hernandez himself noted that when the FIU was looked at it was seen as a one-man show.
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