The Opposition plans to approach international financial monitoring agencies regarding the presence of the Attorney General on the soon to be established Anti-money Laundering Committee.
The Anti-money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill 2018, which was passed last Friday by the National Assembly establishes the Committee with the Attorney General as the head.
Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, explained yesterday that they have big concerns that the Committee is not an independent and autonomous entity provided for by the Act to oversee anti-money laundering activities, the countering of terrorist financing and proliferation.
“Any independent external body examining the amendments that Basil Williams and this Coalition Government hoisted on the nation, they will conclude that no longer is this authority independent and no longer can you separate in a technical way, the fight against money laundering and anti-terrorism activity from the political people,” Jagdeo stated.
The Committee replaces the Anti-money Laundering Authority, which came about because of Amendment Act #1 of 2015, which was passed by the current Coalition administration and was signed into law on July 10, 2015.
He said that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) intends to point this out to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and the Financial Action Task Force (on Money Laundering) (FATF) because a politician is being conferred with the enormous authority through the Committee that undermines the technical authority that was in the original Act, which the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) was suppose to police.
“An intensely political person like Basil Williams who will chair this committee now, will be so intrusive in people’s bank accounts and in their records. He is a loud mouth; he is political and he is partisan to the core. Now that person will have the records of all of the people of Guyana. Their financial records, their transaction records at their finger tips,” Jagdeo noted.
He added, “This bothers me a lot and it must bother the business community.”
Jagdeo reasoned that because of the intrusive nature and the political interference, capital flight will be enhanced.
There are also concerns that the Committee, its assets, property, income and its operations and transactions authorised by this Act, shall be exempt from all taxation including customs duty, consumption tax, capital gains tax, corporation tax, income tax, property tax and purchase tax, and the Committee shall be exempt from payment of any tax or duty whatsoever.
Further, the Bill clearly states, ‘No taxation of any kind shall be levied on any obligations or security issued by the Committee’.
Apart from the AG, the other members to be appointed to the Committee includes the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Governor of the Bank of Guyana, the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit, the head of the Special Organised Crime Unit, the General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board, the Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, the Chairperson of the Guyana Securities Council, the Chairperson of the Gaming Authority and the Chief Cooperatives and Development Officer.
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