Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams wants the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to tell him what it has been doing to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
“The FIU would now have to put in writing to this government what are the requirements that have been demanded of them and what have been implemented and what are outstanding,” he said.
Addressing a consultation on the proposed Anti-Terrorism and Terrorist Related Activities Bill 2015 at the Arthur Chung International Conference Centre, he said the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) has already said that Guyana has complied with an action plan but now has been saying that there are still outstanding areas to be addressed.
“The FIU would have to tell us and they will have to put on record for us what is it they are supposed to do since 2011 that FATF could be saying that they still have to do this and has to do that. What is it that they have to do that FATF could be saying they still have to implement this and implement that,” he said.
The consultation on the Anti-Terrorism and Terrorist Related Activities Bill 2015 was held with representatives of the Private Sector Commission, the commercial banking sector, Bank of Guyana and ordinary members of the public.
Despite concerns that the anti-terrorism law could be misused by any government to seize assets in one’s legitimate possession and crush dissent under the guise of terrorism, the Attorney General and his Chief Parliamentary Counsel, Cecil Durjohn differed.
They explained that those actions would have to be in the context of the meaning of terrorism.
The Attorney General flayed the previous People’s Progressive Party Civic administration for failing to address FATF concerns such as stopping money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism. He noted that large amounts of gold are being smuggled out of Guyana to the United States where declarations are being made. “That’s one of the things that the International community is concerned about. They don’t know if it is for money laundering, they don’t know if it is for financing terrorists,” he said.
Williams vowed that the coalition government would do everything to ensure that Guyana abides by the international rule of law on money laundering and terrorist financing.
The Guyana government earlier this year confirmed that it was collaborating with the United States (US) in acquiring information about gold smuggling. An inter-agency task force comprising the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Guyana Gold Board, Special Organised Crime Unit and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) has been established to examine gold smuggling more closely.
No one was present from the trade unions, opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC), Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) and the trade unions. However, the Attorney General praised the GHRA for its voluminous critique of the Bill.