Jun 29, 2014 News
…dangers of such an event very real-Ramotar
By Gary Eleazar
The fact that Guyana was not mentioned by the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) when it conducted its plenary has
presented a dilemma where some will turn the situation and say that Government was only trying to create hysteria under the guise of international blacklisting and the consequences.
This is the view of President Donald Ramotar, who addressed the media yesterday. He said that despite not being mentioned the dangers of what comes with international blacklisting are real.
Ramotar said that Guyana has a unique situation and in many ways has been getting measures of reprieve hence the reason FATF did not blacklist Guyana during its recently concluded plenary.
He was speaking to the fact that Government is unambiguous in its position that it wants to pass the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing (AML/CFT) Amendment Bill and that it was the opposition which controls the National Assembly that is causing the delay.
According to Ramotar, “We are not out of the woods.” He pointed to another deadline, this time in October, when FATF is expected to host another plenary.
He said that Government is putting the Administrative measures in place such as the establishment of the Special Organised Crime Unit, which is expected to be in place shortly.
According to Ramotar while he is not unhappy that Guyana was not mentioned by FATF in its public statement the review process still goes on.
“Since they have that process in train we will have to have a report again in October; we are not out of the woods.”
While Ramotar conceded that given the size of Guyana’s economy, there is hardly any great risk of this country adversely affecting any other international financial system, he pointed out that the passage of the compliant AML/CFT Bill formed part of an international obligation.
“It’s not totally in our hands; the decisions are taken at CFATF and FATF levels,” according to Ramotar.
FATF completed its Plenary in Paris, France this past week but there was no mention of Guyana despite the fact that CFATF had referred Guyana to its parent body for failing to fully comply with its recommendations.
There was much preaching about the gloom and doom that would obtain should Guyana not pass the current AML/CFT Bill prior to the FATF deadline.
Japan gained the centre of attention when FATF issued its report as part of its ongoing work to identify jurisdictions that may pose a risk to the international financial system.
Ramotar, prior to the commencement of the FAFT review, had called upon the Opposition to unconditionally pass AML/CFT Bill, to limit the harm already done when the Country was blacklisted regionally by CFATF.
Last November, the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce (CFATF) issued a public statement with regard to two of its members —Belize and Guyana.
In May, this year it issued a second public statement calling on its members to put further measures in place when transacting business with Guyana.
Guyana is yet to meet the legislative obligations namely the passage of the Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Amendment Bill.
The political opposition is adamant that its demands must be met before the successful passage of the AML/CFT Bill.
Among the conditions set by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is the assent of a number of pieces of legislation related to the hosting of Local Government Elections among other demands.
The Alliance For Change is demanding the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission.
The AML/CFT Bill is still currently engaging the attention of a Special Select Committee.
The work of the Special Select Committee which is addressing the AML/CFT Bill currently centers on the amendments submitted by Government through the Attorney General.
APNU had submitted three substantive amendments to the Bill that had been bought to the House.
It argued that the coalition wanted to strengthen the legislation with a view to seeing greater enforcement of the law.
Opposition Leader Brigadier (Rtd), David Granger, is on record as stating that the legislation has been on the books for a number of years and that there is to date not a single prosecution in relation to money laundering in Guyana.
While the committee has completed a review of the proposed amendments by APNU, the Attorney General had submitted some counter amendments that are currently the subject of review.
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