Oct 29, 2015 News
…as FATF lauds APNU+AFC Govt. over positive steps taken-Williams
Guyana under the coalition government of A Partnership for National Unity plus Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) is light years away from being blacklisted by the International Financial Action Taskforce (FATF).
This was the report given by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, as he yesterday updated media operatives on Guyana’s recent assessment by the international body.
Guyana, he said, can be considered as grey-listed but that the political will and commitment on the part of the new government was lauded.
FAFT, he said, lauded the APNU+AFC Government for achieving in a matter of months, something which the previous administration was unable to for 15 years.
The Minister said that Guyana was recognized for having implemented fully, five of the recommendations of the international body. There is still some more work to be done in three other areas.
The recommendations, he noted, came about as a result of a mutually agreed action plan, agreed to by Guyana and FATF.
Grilled on the outstanding matters in order to meet all of the requirements as required, Williams said that they include among other matters, “the question of identifying, tracing and freezing of assets.”
He said that work is also to be done as it relates to accessing the assets to be frozen. He spoke of a provision in the relevant legislation whereby the Director of Public Prosecutions can apply to freeze a person’s assets within seven days after receiving the relevant complaints.
This, he said, is compounded by the fact that the reporting entity against suspicious transactions is prohibited from engaging the matter by five days.
He said that this leaves a position where the reporting entity is prevented from attending to a matter and the time within which the DPP has to apply to freeze the assets which in itself presents an anomaly that has to be rectified.
According to Williams, the procedure requires that there should be no delays in pursuing assets flagged by a reporting entity.
On the matter of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) legislation which was approved by the new government when it came to office, Williams reported that there were no complaints.
“None whatsoever,” said Williams who went on to explain that the recommendations that Guyana has been implementing, came about through an agreed action plan.
He said it was not a case of other matters being imported into that action plan for implementation by government.
“So you had to deal with your action plan and you will see them (FATF) saying that we should continue the action plan.”
He spoke to Guyana’s efforts at putting in the necessary governance framework such as bodies like the Financial Intelligence Unit.
Asked to clarify Guyana’s status quo, in relation to FATF, Williams said, “What they have seen for a government that has been in office for four months is like a bright light.”
According to Williams, the report on Guyana is a public document for all to see. “We are in what would be a light-grey situation.”
The Attorney General further stated that Guyana remains grey listed only because a representative was unable to travel to a recent assessment conducted in Guyana, held in Ecuador recently.
Williams said at the time, that Guyanese legislatures were debating the 2015 National Estimates.
The Attorney General said he was actually told by the co chair of the Americas Region Review Group that attending that attending the meeting would have helped to unravel some of the hurdles faced by Guyana when it comes to full implementation of all of the agreed recommendations for implementation.
He was adamant that at no time was Guyana ever blacklisted internationally by FATF and in fact called the suggestion a hoax perpetrated on the country by his predecessors.
According to Williams, it was only after he would have appeared before the FAFT body for its review that the details were spelt out in relation to Guyana’s position with that world body.
“I had to go to the FATF meeting to know exactly what the situation is,” said Williams.
He also sought to rubbish claims that Guyana was deemed non-compliant by FATF. This designation would or could only be applied in face of failing an onsite assessment.
This is a precondition for any delisting and “unless and until you have an onsite visit there is no question of being fully compliant; there is no question of being delisted.”
According to Williams, “we are very clear that within four months we have done, according to them (FAFT) far more than the PPP government did in 15 years.”
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