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CFATF gives Guyana until August to submit amended financial crimes law

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) has given Guyana two months to pass upgraded laws against financial crimes before the global watchdog considers the country’s fate in November, Attorney General Anil Nandlall said Tuesday.

Addressing the opening of a workshop on Guidelines for the 2009 Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing of Terrorism, he said the parliamentary select committee received a formal response from CFATF that Guyana has until August 26 to approve the amendments to the laws.

The committee had decided to formally ask CFATF to state the deadline in writing when Guyana has to submit the amended laws to that body for experts to study them ahead of the meeting.

“A letter was dispatched by us to CFATF requesting the actual deadline for us to submit the bill as passed by parliament and we received a reply that indicates to us that August 26 is actually the deadline that we have to submit the amendment passed into law to the CFATF to have it considered at the November plenary meeting,” he later told explained to reporters.

Nandlall, who is also the Legal Affairs Minister, said the National Assembly might have to push back the commencement of its recess which is due to run from August 10 to October 10.

He hoped that the opposition members of the parliamentary select committee would consider amending its schedule. Nandlall observed that already the opposition has decided that the committee would accept only one submission per say from members of the public or interested personnel.

If Guyana does not complete its work by the stipulated deadline, according to the Attorney General, Guyana would unlikely escape sanctions if it misses this deadline.

Key Western Nations say money laundering is prevalent in Guyana but authorities here have done little or nothing to prosecute suspects who may be also linked to the drug trade.

If Guyana does not meet the August 26 deadline, CFATF sanctions could result in the cost of doing business here going up because there will be lots more stringent and time consuming measures in processing international money transactions.

The opposition and government have been haggling over why the Donald Ramotar administration waited at the last minute to attempt to ramrod the amendments through the National Assembly.

Amid concerns that sanctions would have been imposed on Guyana because it missed the April 27 deadline, the opposition had demanded more time to study the laws and the requirements to go after money launderers.

The CFATF and the international community want a special mechanism established interface with the Financial Intelligence Unit in going after those who wash dirty money.