Aug 06, 2017 News
In an effort to enhance the integrity and stability of the local financial sector, the Government has taken further steps to strengthen the nation’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.
This was noticeable, particularly in the first half of the year.
In fact, the Finance Ministry in its mid-year report said that during the month of April, the country’s first AML/CFT National Risk Assessment (NRA), as mandated by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Revised Recommendations, was completed. The Ministry said that this allowed for the identification and better understanding of the risks to which Guyana is exposed.
The National Risk Assessment was conducted by officials from public and private sector agencies, with technical and financial assistance from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.
According to the Ministry, the findings of the National Risk Assessment formed the basis for the preparation of a National Risk-Based Action Plan for AML/CFT. This is expected to facilitate the adoption of a risk-based approach to the allocation of resources and the implementation of policy measures to prevent and mitigate money laundering and terrorist financing.
The Finance Ministry said, “The supervisory regime for AML/CFT was enhanced by the appointment of AML/CFT Supervisors for some reporting entities identified as high-risk entities, but which were never assigned an AML/CFT Supervisor”.
Several Bank of Guyana officials confirmed that some of these “high-risk” entities relate to the real estate industry, car dealerships and betting places.
During a National Risk Assessment workshop which was held a few months ago, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams had stressed that it is not enough that Guyana is armed with the relevant laws to detect and prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.
According to Williams, an AML/CFT framework will demand convictions. This is an area in which Guyana has been lacking, and Williams is determined to change this state of affairs.
Williams said that the NRA is a good starting point in the journey towards an efficient and effective AML/CFT regime.
“The National Risk Assessment therefore serves as a yardstick from which to measure Guyana’s progress as well as the weaknesses in our regime; and being equipped with this knowledge, we will be able to know where we have to go if we are to reach our desired goal,” expressed the Minister.
Williams also stated that by completing a NRA, it places Guyana in the company of countries like the USA, UK and Canada who have all found the NRA process to be an effective tool in addressing the defects in their AML/CFT regime.
The Attorney General noted that this process is pivotal to the further development of Guyana’s regime as it puts the nation in a better position to successfully improve on its existing framework.
Through the NRA, Williams stated that the authorities of the day will be able to prioritize and focus on the most crucial areas and strategically allocate resources to strengthen these areas. He noted that the NRA supports the policy-making process by enabling the Government and other relevant bodies to address the loopholes in the regime and to plug those holes.
Furthermore, the Minister said that the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing is an undertaking that requires the coordinated and dedicated efforts of all stakeholders including policy makers, law enforcement, private sector and financial institutions.
He noted that Guyana already has laws to detect and prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. While the relevant laws are important, the Minister of Legal Affairs said that it is equally important that stakeholders understand the money laundering and terrorist financing threats, risks and vulnerabilities that the nation faces.
Williams asserted that identifying, assessing and understanding the risks of money laundering will undoubtedly put Guyana in a better position to mitigate those threats and vulnerabilities by implementing the necessary measures.
The Attorney General said that this is an essential part of the development and implementation of any country’s AML/CFT regime. Without going through this process, Williams remarked that Guyana would be operating in a vacuum which is counterproductive.
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