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Caricom warns about fall-out from non-passage of Anti Money Laundering amendments

Caricom leaders ,at their just concluded summit in St. Vincent, called on Guyana to pass amendments to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act or run the risk of the country and the regional economy being badly affected.

“We call on all relevant parties to enact the necessary legislation in the national and regional interest,” they said in a communiqué at the end of their summit held from March 10 to 12, 2013.

Guyana has been already blacklisted by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and can only be removed after the amendments have been approved, signed into law and the entire legislation is enforced.

If the CFATF-approved amendments that were tabled in the House one year ago are not enacted, Guyana can be blacklisted globally by the France-headquartered Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Following is the full text of the statement:

The Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community regards with profound dismay, Guyana’s inability to enact the requisite legislation aimed at implementing the recommendations of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to address deficiencies in its anti-money laundering regime.

We recognise that Guyana’s failure to enact this Bill will result in Guyana being blacklisted by CFATF and consequently have far-reaching implications and, indeed, repercussions on the economy of Guyana as well as that of every territory of the Region. It will affect the cost of processing international transactions and will adversely affect trade and financial flows in the Region. The non-passage of the Bill will also retard the regional integration enterprise, limit the opportunity for growth in Guyana and the Region and result in hardship for the people of Guyana, and indeed, of the Region.

We call on all relevant parties to enact the necessary legislation in the national and regional interest.

END OF STATEMENT

The opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has insisted on several amendments to the principal act, saying it is aimed at improving governance of the AML architecture and clamping down on suspected launderers.

Their proposed amendments include the need for an Anti-Money Laundering Authority to oversee the functioning of the various agencies that are involved in countering money laundering and financing terrorism. The Alliance For Change (AFC) has also joined APNU in demanding that the officers of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) be appointed by the National Assembly. Also part of the opposition’s raft of amendments is the seizure of huge sums of money by police and customs anywhere in Guyana once they are suspected to be proceeds of crime.

But government is banking on the CFATF’s view that the opposition’s proposed amendments, if passed, risked making Guyana non-compliant. Government has further argued that the opposition’s changes might result in the need to amend other laws that have not been contemplated at this time.