To the powers in Guyana, it is more than a spot of bother. It is an unnecessary evil that makes life a torture for established commercial and political powers, and craven social foot soldiers. Citizens want to be rid of it.
There is a problem: the foreign architects are neither listening nor understanding nor accommodating. Screws tighten relentlessly. Matters are going the other way.
The word came, compliments of Kaieteur News via a June 10th article captioned, “C’bean fallen behind on FATF compliance with anti-money laundering organization.” That is bad. And just how bad it is was highlighted when, in Bridgetown, the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists “(ACAMS) executive director, Rick McDonell, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that up to half the countries in the region are not adequately complaint in meeting FATF regulations.”
In view of the serious implications involved, it is worth repeating: “Up to half of the countries in the region are not adequately compliant…” That could be looked upon in several different ways, none comforting.
First, that means trouble. Second, unless those lapsing countries get their act together in a hurry, it could mean a nightmarish scenario for many in the region. Third, this should be taken as a wakeup call; indeed, an early courtesy warning, an ominous one.
And fourth, though Guyana has managed to keep its head above water for a few short years, it is in no inconsiderable danger. Though the troubled countries were not publicly identified, it is highly likely that Guyana falls plum in the midst of the beleaguered; or hovers perilously close to the yardsticks used to determine shortfalls. It is timely to ask: what are those shortfalls?
For starters, some palatable news, according to the KN coverage. It was reported that “countries have done a lot of work to ensure the passage of the required anti-money laundering legislation.”
Guyana can pat itself on the back for having done so. But that is as far as matters go, which brings us to the disturbing news. “A number of (countries) have been placed on the FATF’s grey list because there are still concerns about the effectiveness of those laws” (italics added).
To restate commonsense, a “grey list” should not be mistaken for a green list or green light. Far from it, as that signifies a situation unnervingly close to a blacklist, and with all that that entails.
It must be said that recognition has been forthcoming for the strides that have been made. Examples include a financial intelligence unit, and reporting of suspicious transactions by banks and other institutions. The article confirms that “in terms of Barbados and most other countries in the region, those tools are available to a reasonable degree.”
For sure, some of those mandatory tools are already in place in Guyana. These are steps in the right direction, achieved after yeoman effort, and continuing resistance. Now it is time for the down side; it is dismal.
In conjunction with laws on the books, are the follow-up measurements and evaluations of success in “deterring financial crime; deterring money laundering or proactively prosecuting people. It’s on that level that the compliance levels are not high.”
Simply stated, the record is just not there; that despite the satisfactory legislative efforts and degrees of reporting, the deliverables and expected results on the enforcement side are noticeably lacking.
The enforcement side means engaging in “proactively prosecuting people.”
Clearly, there is some dissatisfaction on this, and with reason. Without venturing farther afield–simply sticking to home–the local register is barren in terms of significant players hauled before the courts for financial crimes and made to feel the reach and teeth of the law.
That is final.
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