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Ramotar calls for unconditional passage of money laundering bill

President Donald Ramotar (File photo)

 President Donald Ramotar has called on the parliamentary opposition to pass the anti-money laundering legislation without conditions following Thursday’s revelation that Guyana has been further blacklisted by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. 

Below is his statement issued by the Government Information Agency in its entirety.

We have just received news that at the 39th Meeting of the CFATF held between May 26 to 29, 2014 Guyana which has been the subject of a CFATF review, as a result of the National Assembly not passing the necessary legislation, that is the AML/CFT Bill, was referred to FATF.

In the mean time they have issued a public statement informing the world that Guyana poses serious risks to the International financial     System.

They called upon the rest of the world to take measures to protect their systems from those risks.

The measures at this stage could include the requirement of enhanced due diligence;  introducing enhanced reporting mechanisms or systematic reporting of financial transactions; refusing the establishment of subsidiaries or branches or representative offices in Guyana, or otherwise taking into account the fact that the relevant financial institution is from a country that does not have adequate AML/CFT systems and limiting the business relationships or financial transactions with Guyana or persons in our country,  among others. 

Fellow citizens, as you know the Government did everything possible to get this piece of Legislation through the National Assembly.

A CFATF compliant bill was laid in Parliament since April 22, 2013 by the administration.  Had it been passed then, Guyana would not be in this situation today.

The Opposition demanded that it be sent to a Special Select Committee because they had amendments.    They proposed no amendments, the Government then returned the bill to Parliament in November 2013.

The Opposition voted it down.

In December the Bill was returned to Parliament and again the Opposition demanded that it go to a Special Select Committee for them to make amendments.

They only proposed amendments in February 2014, just before a CFATF review meeting later that month.

A CFATF assessor was invited to look at the amendments.  At a meeting held of the Special Select Committee on February 21, 2014 he expressed the view that the opposition’s amendments were not CFATF compliant.  He spoke to the media and the Business Community and expressed the same opinion.

CARICOM Leaders at the Heads of Government meeting in St. Vincent urged Guyana to pass the Legislation to prevent the unnecessary hardship to our people and the rest of region.

Individual CARICOM Leaders, the Organisation of American States the local business, labour, banking, insurance and farming communities also made several appeals to have this legislation urgently passed.

The Chairperson, the CEO of CFATF also visited Guyana and again urged that the CFATF compliant bill be passed.

Moreover, exhortations by the diplomatic community here also pointed to the dangers and urged that we pass this bill.

In spite of these regional, international and local voices, the Opposition stubbornly refused to support the passage of a CFATF compliant Bill.

In so doing, they have now put in danger our country’s financial system.  Moreover they have now endangered the very welfare of all of our citizens.

Today I call upon the opposition to unconditionally pass a CFATF compliant Bill to limit the harm already done and the dangers to our people’s well being.

I will assent to such a bill as soon as it is sent to me by the National Assembly.

May 29, 2013