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APNU’s proposed Anti Money Laundering Board out of context- Ramotar

The National Assembly in session

President Donald Ramotar on Sunday reacted sharply to A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) insistence that a civilian oversight body must be established to appoint top officials of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and oversee enforcement of the financial crimes law.

“If this is supposed to be a legislation to be similar to the rest of the Caribbean and to the rest of the world, their proposal is way-way out. It does not fit into the context,” he told Demerara Waves.

The Guyanese leader expressed dismay that the opposition appeared just content to hold on to its position rather than consider the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force’s (CFATF) advice that their proposed Anti Money Laundering Authority risked making Guyana non-compliant.

Government more than one week ago submitted counter-amendments to those by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU). The administration counter amendments- a slight variant of the Barbados-model- provides for the establishment of a Board.

Dismissing APNU’s demand for an Anti Money Laundering Authority, the President stressed that a civilian oversight body could not deal with criminal activities. Greenidge wants the Authority should oversee the work of the Board and provide policy guidance wherever necessary.

The first public sign of government’s compromise came in Ramotar’s response to the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Chairman’s Ronald Webster advocating an adoption of the Barbados model- days after government had already handed in its counter-amendments to the committee reflecting that same approach.

“My contention is that we have a Bill at the moment that CFATF has pronounced on and found it to be compliant and I think that is the Bill that we should pass. If there is to be any amendment to that it has to be within the framework of what CFATF would want,” he said.

The President denied also told the PSC boss that he had also learnt from one of his Private Sector colleagues that “CFATF was probably beginning to have some problems with the Barbados model.”

Junior Finance Minister, Juan Edghill has added that government’s counter-amendments take account of CFATF’s concerns about that aspect of Barbados’ AML/CFT law.

“In fact, the Government’s counter-proposals of amendments recently placed before the Special Select Committee is a modified version of the Barbadian model, deliberately crafted to take into account the possible concern of CFATF in relation to that model,” Edghill is on record as saying.

The counter amendments provide for the Finance Minister to appoint an authority to be made up of the Commissioner of Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Governor of the Central Bank, the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority, the Solicitor General the Head of CANU, the Registrar of Deeds and Companies and a representative from the Private Sector Commission in the area of banking and commerce.

APNU argues that its proposed authority is aimed at improving governance of the AML/CFT architecture in a country where Guyanese often question the integrity of the Executive and institutions like the Public Service Commission (PSC) have become dysfunctional in contrast to Barbados.