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Jul 07, 2015 News
– expresses hope that expanded cooperation between the U.S. DEA and local anti-narcotics agencies will ultimately dismantle the drug flow through Guyana
By Abena Rockcliffe
Contrary to pronouncements made by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) to the effect that the recently passed Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Bill is flawed, the United States of America has declared the piece of legislation “fully compliant.”
As he delivered an address at a recently held reception which the United States hosted in celebration of its Independence anniversary, Chief of Mission, Bryan Hunt, said that the United States was pleased with Guyana.
He told the gathering that 2015 has already been a transformative year in the relationship between Guyana and the United States.
Hunt said that in 2014, the United States was seriously concerned about the economic and law enforcement implications of the Guyana government’s failure to pass new anti-money laundering legislation. “Tonight, I can offer my Government’s sincere congratulations to (Prime Minister) Nagamootoo on the parliament’s recent passage of fully compliant legislation.
After close to three years in the National Assembly, the AML/CFT Bill of 2015 was passed on June 26 in the absence of the PPP/C opposition. After noting that the piece of legislation was “fully compliant,” Hunt offered the United States’ support for its maximum implementation.
He added, “Indeed in a host of areas from counter-narcotics to oil and gas sector management, Guyana and the United States are exploring new avenues for collaboration, which will be of benefit to both of our societies.”
Hunt said that a revitalized security and counter-narcotics relationship is already beginning to yield results. He added that Guyana’s law enforcement agencies have made significant seizures in the last year, “not the least of which was finding the self-propelled semi-submersible in the interior and putting that shipyard out of business.”
Hunt also noted that the cocaine seizures at the airport have continued to increase as information sharing and law enforcement collaboration between Guyana and the US has grown.
“I am confident that despite the criticism of skeptics expanded cooperation between the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Guyanese Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit and Serious Organized Crimes Unit will disrupt and ultimately dismantle the drug flow through Guyana,” said Hunt.
The PPP/C had said that the AML Bill is not compliant with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations.
PPP Executive Member, Gail Teixeira, had said that the problem lies in the amendment to Sections eight and nine which deals with the establishment of an AML/CFT Authority from which members will be appointed by the National Assembly, and removing the powers of the Minister to appoint the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the power of the President to dismiss the Director and placing these powers in the Authority.
She noted too that the APNU+AFC government is aware of the contentious areas of the Bill and should take step to rectify it and not risk the country being blacklisted to “save face.”
Meanwhile, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall explained that taking away the power of appointment from the President and giving it to the National Assembly provides an ideal set up for there to be corruption in the appointment of the Head of the unit.
As he took to the floor of the National Assembly during the passage of the Bill, Attorney General Basil Williams addressed criticisms laid by PPP saying that PPP’s ramblings were unfounded as the Amendments made to the Bill only serve to strengthen it. He maintained that the process to now overlook the FIU is transparent and would actually serve for the betterment of the unit, contrary to what is being said by the PPP.
“I don’t know where you can find a more transparent process than that…This authority (Parliamentary Management Authority) is not intended to rob the FIU of its independence. In fact, the legislation states clearly that the authority will not interfere in the day to day running of the FIU,” Williams pointed out.
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