Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, is confident that Guyana will receive a positive review by the end of the Financial Action Task Force /International Coordinating Review Group (FATF/ ICRG) visit.
The team is here to conduct onsite inspections as part of the process to review Guyana’s compliance to the standards outlined by the FATF.
A favourable report from the team will allow Guyana to begin the process of removing itself from the FATF/ICRG review list, at the October plenary meeting.
As part of the visit, the team will also be ensuring that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is functioning effectively. The FIU is supposed to oversee the Special Organised Crime Unit, (SOCU).
The team is also expected to visit the Bank of Guyana, Guyana Securities Council (GSC), money transfer agencies, coop unions, cambios and other financial agencies.
Other reforms, which the onsite visit will seek to confirm, is whether there is enhanced transparency with the financial systems and that the mechanisms for reporting suspicious transactions are in place.
Among the things that they will be looking for, is to ensure that Guyana is criminalizing money laundering and terrorist financing; that Guyana has adequate measures to confiscate assets related to money laundering and that the country has the legal framework to identify, trace and freeze terrorist assets.
Following the first meeting with the group which includes Calvin Wilson, Executive Director of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF); Gonzalo De Lara America ‘ Regional Review Group Assessor; Kevin Vandergrift, Senior Analyst FATF; and Roger Hernandez, CFATF Financial Advisor; yesterday, the AG expressed confidence that Guyana will acquire a positive review from FATF.
“The team is here to do an onsite evaluation on whether Guyana has introduced the FATF standards and implemented the recommendations, and determine whether there is political commitment to the sustain measures that were implemented.”
Minister Williams noted that the APNU –AFC led administration has shown commitment to ensuring that financial recommendations are implemented and upheld.
“Within a year of coming into government, we have satisfied all the recommendations in the action plan. We also satisfied the recommendations under the CFATF.
“But, remember, we inherited a system whereby we were referred by CFATF to FATF. We couldn’t exit CFAT before exiting FATF. That is why once we exit FATF in fact, we will exit CFATF. We are confident that we were able to satisfy the requirements,” the Minister explained.
Additionally, the Attorney General lauded his compliance team which includes Acting Head of FIU, Alicia Williams and members of the drafting division of the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
“Those members of the draft division are world beaters because they have more or less earned the kudos of implementation, from the ARRG /ICRG. They (the ARRG/ICRG) marveled at the fact that we were able to get four pieces of legislation through our Parliament in one year. And these are legislation that have been accepted the FATF and CFATF.
Additionally, the AG said that his recent appointment as Deputy Chairman of the CFATF is testament to the fact that the body is impressed by Government’s effort to implement the financial framework.
Williams was appointed to the deputy chairmanship of Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, for the period from 2016- 2018.
Questioned about the concerns of the opposition with the regards to Guyana’s capability in tackling financial crimes, Minister Williams said that he was not bothered by what the opposition has to say.
He said that under the previous administration there was no political will in getting the FATF recommendations implemented.
“When we came into office no-one was ever charged. No one was ever taken to court since we were elected. People have been charged and people have been taken to court. So I don’t know how you can factor in the Opposition, they have done nothing. The last regime has done nothing under the AML/CFT legislation,” the Minister added.
Last July, Minister Williams announced that FATF/ICRG team will be conducting onsite inspections of several of Guyana’s institutions in order to verify Guyana’s progress and its readiness to come off of its watch list.
Williams had explained that a favorable report from the team will allow Guyana to begin the process of removing itself from the FATF/ICRG review list, at the October plenary meeting.
The team began visiting Guyana yesterday to conduct their inspections.
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