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Prepare for delays in financial transactions, greater scrutiny of paper-trail- Ram and Mc Rae

Chartered Accountant firm, Ram and Mc Rae, on Friday downplayed the impact of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force’s (CFATF) recommendation that financial institutions should be careful when doing business with Guyana.

The firm predicted delays in financial transactions and urged businesses to keep adequate records. “We therefore recommend that in undertaking transactions, businesses and individuals should allow for some delays in the processing of both inbound and outbound transactions,” said the firm.

Government has deemed Guyana as “blacklisted” based on CFATF’s recommendation that members are therefore called upon to consider implementing counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating from Guyana. That decision was taken at CFATF’s XXXVIII Plenary Meeting being held from November 20-21, 2013, in Freeport, Bahamas.

At the heart of the issue is the combined opposition’s refusal to pass amendments to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT). A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) wants even more water-tight legislation and a strengthened Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to clamp down on financial crimes and aid in the prosecution of perpetrators. The Alliance For Change (AFC), on the other hand, has promised to support passage of the legislation only if the constitutionally mandated Public Procurement Commission (PPC) is established because that mechanism would be key to clamp down on money laundering through multimillion dollar contracts.

Ram and Mc Rae said that while countries would not stop doing business with Guyana businesses and individuals would face consequences as other jurisdictions review the framework within which transactions are carried on with Guyana. “The most significant impact will be on time sensitive transactions as more questions are raised about the source and destination of funds and the purpose and validity of transactions which could ultimately translate into increased costs and possibly lost business opportunities,” said the Accounting firm.

The firm expected that there would an additional period of one week be allowed for any additional enquiries and investigations. “In particular businesses and individuals must maintain adequate records and a reliable paper trail of their transactions,” the firm added.

Ram & McRae urged Guyana’s political leaders both inside and outside of the National Assembly to address the money-laundering and related systemic issues that continue to undermine the integrity of Guyana’s financial system, fair trading and public trust and international confidence.    

The Guyana government and the Private Sector Commission (PSC) had repeatedly warned that the country would have faced severe constraints in incoming and outgoing financial transactions including the purchase of goods and services and remittances.

CFATF plans to formally write Guyana advising that should the identified deficiencies in the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) be not rectified, by the next Plenary Meeting scheduled for May 2014, the country would referred to the France-headquartered Financial Action Task Force (FATF) International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG).

Government has noted that the FATF, of which CFATF is a member, would hold its next Plenary in February 2014 at which it could independently review Guyana.