The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Authority, that the APNU+AFC Government made provisions for in the AML/CFT Amendment Bill of 2015, is still to be appointed.
According to the legislation, the AML/CFT Authority is supposed to be the head of the entire AML structure in Guyana. With this body being non-existent, Guyana basically has a headless AML structure. This is despite the position that government took in announcing that it wants to implement all possible measures to keep money laundering in Guyana at bay.
Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall told Kaieteur News yesterday, that Guyana will pay the price for this come next round of evaluation.
Nandlall said that the Government had no need to create the Authority in the first place, as this was not a requirement of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF). He explained that what the financial watchdog required was a forum at which heads of the various bodies which have a stake in the fight against money laundering can meet. Nandlall said that requirement was already fulfilled by the PPP/C administration in the form of the National Task Force. The former Attorney General said that the government has since abandoned that body for it to be replaced by the Authority.
Nandlall said that the AML/CFT Authority is a huge bureaucratic structure comprising of 10 ex-officio officers and 10 persons who have to be appointed by a majority in parliament as a result of recommendation coming from the Committee of Appointments.
According to Nandlall, he has no faith in the Committee of Appointment being able to fill this legal gap any time soon, since it took just over a year and a half before it was able to appoint a single man to head the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
He recalled that the APNU+AFC had taken the power away from the President to appoint the top officials in the AML/CFT regime and resided it in the parliament. Nandlall said that he had pointed out several things that were fundamentally wrong with this move, while speaking to the Bill in the National Assembly.
He noted that parliament is not an appointment body. Before this provision, the Committee of Appointment’s role was to recommend names to the National Assembly which would then approve the names and send to the President for him to make appointments.
Nandlall said he had also told the House that the Parliament is made up of politicians, all of whom have to be monitored closely by the FIU and therefore ought not to be participating in the process of appointing persons who have to scrutinise and investigate them.
Further, Nandlall said that he noted that using the parliamentary process to appoint persons would take an extraordinarily long time to accomplish. He said too that another reason that he put forward was that the FIU is supposed to be independent in operational and policy matters.
“To make the FIU subject to the AML/CFT authority will take away that independence. Especially since that body will inevitably comprise of political exposed persons who must also be investigated by the FIU. My arguments were rejected and those amendments were included in the Bill.”
However, Nandlall said that the fact that the Parliament, the legislative branch has been given appointment powers is a violation of the doctrine of separation of power “only the executive is supposed to make appointment.”
“It has been almost three years and the appointment process has not yet even commenced for the AML/CFT Authority. With the Authority being non-existent, the entire AML/CFT legal structure is headless.”
Nandlall said that with the National Task force not even being in place, there is no forum for the important players in the AML/CFT structure to meet and supply information to each other; for example, the head of Central bank, Guyana Revenue Authority, Police Force, Deeds Registry.
“At this forum, these agencies would meet and inform each other of ongoing investigations and a modus vivendi was supposed to be worked out among these various agencies and therefore there would be a reduction of conflicts in operational matters,’ said Nandlall.
He continued, “This task force was abolished; therefore there is no opportunity for these agencies to meet at any level in an institutional environment. As a result, there is now constant conflict between the FIU, GRA and the Banks, etc. It was always expected that unless there is a collaborative mechanism among these agencies, there was always the imminent possibility that there is going to be a clash for turf; for example, who has priority over whom in the investigation of a particular matter where more than one agencies have the mandate to investigate?”
Nandlall predicts that Guyana will be faulted in some form or fashion for the non-establishment of this authority itself ‘as flawed as it is.’
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