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Opposition- Ramotar talks end in limbo on Anti Money Laundering amendments

Efforts by President Donald Ramotar and leaders of the parliamentary opposition parties to reach consensus on passing amendments to the financial crimes bill before February 28 appear to be in limbo.

The Guyanese leader, Chairman of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), David Granger and Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan held almost two hours of discussions Wednesday morning.

“I don’t think we came out of any compromise as yet. However, there is a little life-line until after the select committee this (Wednesday),” he said. Ramjattan explained that members of the select committee would seek to fine-tune the amendments in the hope that government would accept it.

Against the background of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) cautioning that additional amendments to the 2009 Act and the proposed amendments by APNU could run the risk of the country being declared non-compliant, APNU’s Carl Greenidge argued that it was better to  go in that direction than no passage.

APNU wants the law to be amended to establish an Anti Money Laundering Authority to appoint top officials of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the establishment of a parliamentary oversight mechanism and the seizure of the equivalent of US$10,000 if there is reasonable suspicion that they are proceeds of crime.

“Hopefully, in the end even if the APNU or the PPP (Peoples Progressive Party ) is unhappy about one part the total product will lead to positive benefit of the country even if there is some damage- and we don’t believe there would be- it would be far less than the damage from not passing a bill at all,” Greenidge told reporters.

In exchange for its support also, APNU wants mechanisms to be put in place to return and pass by a two-thirds a number of Bills that the President has refused to assent. That coalition also wants government to operationalise a number of laws that have been enacted as part of steps to improve the governance of the country.

In addition to supporting APNU’s 13 amendments to strengthen the legislation, the AFC continued to demand the establishment of the long-awaited constitutionally required Public Procurement Commission.