The advisory was issued at the regional financial crimes watchdog’s plenary held earlier this week in The Bahamas. CFATF members were told to take the necessary measures to insulate themselves from ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks after the National Assembly failed to amend the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act in keeping with CFATF recommendations.
The combined opposition has given several reasons for not approving the amendments including the need to ensure the law is watertight and that adequate systems are put in place to arrest and prosecute launderers of ill-gotten gains.
Following is the full text of the Finance Minister’s statement outlining the expected bottlenecks that Guyanese will experience as a result of failure to pass the amendments:
The decision by CFATF to encourage its member countries to consider implementing counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating from Guyana is most unfortunate.
As a result of this warning Guyana’s credibility in the international community will be severely damaged. International business relations with Guyana will be subjected to intense scrutiny which inevitability will become bureaucratic and costly for investors. Such environments will undoubtedly detour investor interests and ultimately limit Guyana’s marketability.
Countries which have been blacklisted and received similar warnings have responded differently based on their unique economies. How Guyana’s economy responds will only be determined in time. What is known is, regardless of Guyana’s current economic state, the consequences of the warning issued by CFATF are far reaching:
1. Persons who receive remittances/ cash via money transfer systems, may experience delays in receiving the transfer. There may also be an increased processing fee resulting from additional paperwork.
2. Proof of income and identification of the sender of such remittances will be enhanced. Persons most likely to be affected by this are undocumented aliens who reside abroad.
3. The transfer of money from local to external banks will be delayed as international banks begin to severe ties locally.
4. This delay in bank transfers or severing of financial ties with local banks can affect fuel prices and ultimately the cost for travel and commodities.
5. Local businesses may experience delays in the shipment of goods as additional paperwork will be required to prove that a business is legitimate and not a shell company laundering monies or financing terrorism.
6. Enhanced scrutiny will be implemented to verify the source and destination of all monies.
7. Persons who shop online and use debit and credit cards to conduct such transactions may find their transactions are denied or delayed.
8. Insurance services (fire, life, mortgage etc), most of which depend on reinsurance from abroad, are also expected to experience delays, additional filing of paperwork and possibly increased fees.
Despite numerous warnings, multiple engagements, calls from the private sector, manufacturing industry, banking and insurance sectors and the diplomatic community, it is most unfortunate that Guyana’s development has received such a striking blow due to non- cooperation at the parliamentary level.
The implications of Guyana not complying with the CFATF requirements will undoubtedly affect our social and economic development. As more information becomes available, Government will keep the public informed.