Nov 16, 2017 News
…We are fit to fight – Granger assures
Guyana has made strides in meeting the required global standards for anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), but will need to take further steps by demonstrating the ability to successfully prosecute and confiscate ill-gotten gains.
This is a crucial element before the fourth round of the mutual evaluation process is undertaken by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF). This aspect requires immense technical work to prove that assets were accumulated by nefarious means and does relate only to drug traffickers, but also senior officials.
Outgoing Chairperson of CFATF and Attorney General of Turks & Caicos, Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles, has taken note that Guyana in recent months has seen a number of arrests and prosecutions. There have also been training and sensitization programmes spearheaded by Attorney General Basil Williams.
Attorney General Williams assumes the Chairmanship of CFATF for the next year.
“You take the profit out of crime; that is where you demonstrate effectiveness,” Braithwaite-Knowles told Kaieteur News at the end of the opening ceremony for the 46th Plenary Meeting of CFATF held at the Marriott Hotel yesterday.
She added, “You have to be able to collect and disseminate statistics to demonstrate that that is what’s happening and that is what I would advise Guyana or any of our members to do. That is what Turks & Caicos Islands is doing now in preparation for our mutual evaluation.”
The Turks & Caicos Attorney General noted that the key is not only for Guyana to train judges, prosecutors and police officers to combat money laundering. There must be real results.
“You will see prosecution coming forward not just for predicate offences like drug trafficking, but you see them for money laundering offences so that you take the profit out of crime. You go from the predicate offence; you are convicted of that, but you still have the money so therefore you can go to jail and spend a little bit of time and so on and you can pay a fine.
“Guyana has to go to confiscation and forfeiture,” Braithwaite-Knowles stated.
FIT TO FIGHT
President David Granger assured the plenary meeting that Guyana is fit to fight. It has embarked on the path of passing robust regulations and legislation to protect its financial system from financing unlawful activities seventeen years ago.
Among the legislative frameworks mentioned was the Money-Laundering (Prevention) Act 2000; and more recently the Anti-Money Laundering and the Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2015.
“The appropriate agencies – the Bank of Guyana, the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions – have been empowered with the authority and autonomy and equipped with the technical and institutional means to discharge their functions under our anti-money laundering and the countering of the financing of terrorism legislation,” President Granger stated.
The President noted that the Caribbean has become an attractive destination, a paradise, for money-launderers, tax-evaders and assorted transnational criminal cartels.
According to President Granger, these crimes have the potential to disrupt the region’s economies, corrupt officials, subvert institutions, pervert youth and spawn frightening levels of crime and violence in society.
The Task Force recommendations, the President noted, are necessary to insulate the Region’s financial sector from the crimes of money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.
“The Task Force recommendations can help to insulate the Region’s economies from contamination by dirty money and by protecting the integrity of our financial sector from the risks associated with ill-gotten gains,” President Granger stated.
Guyana was blacklisted in 2013 for failing to implement a series of legislation to combat AML/CFT, but Braithwaite-Knowles noted that Guyana has started to pass the necessary legislation and is putting in place the infrastructure.
“This is how Guyana is making its case that it is putting into practice this arsenal that it has. The way FATF looks at it is that you say you have soldiers but can they fight? So it doesn’t make sense to have a set of soldiers that make the army looks good, but when you put them to battle they can’t win the war. What I see Guyana doing now is actually putting into practice the legislative framework by actually instituting investigations and prosecutions under the various frameworks,” Braithwaite-Knowles stated.
In May 2013, the Plenary placed Guyana on a list of jurisdictions with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies that had not made sufficient progress in addressing the deficiencies. Guyana was required to take specific steps to address the deficiencies by November 2013.
As a result of the assessment of measures in the Fifth Follow-Up Report, Plenary in November 2013, agreed that Guyana be identified in a formal CFATF statement as not taking sufficient steps to address its AML/CFT deficiencies. CFATF Members were called upon to consider implementing counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating from Guyana.
Guyana successfully exited the Financial Action Task Force and International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) in October 2016.
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