Last Updated on Saturday, 26 December 2015, 21:01 by GxMediaAttorney General Anil Nandlall says the anti-money laundering legislation has vested a lot of power in the Financial Intelligence Unit and other agencies but Guyana lacks the resources to exercise those powers.
He made the comments on Monday at a PPP news conference at Freedom House.
“Guyana like many countries in the Caribbean does not have much of what it takes to investigate these matters.
The equipping the relevant agencies with the requisite resources is a tremendous task and Guyana is not singular in its inability to find all financial resources that are necessary to make this body fully operational,” Nandlall said.
According to the AG, the government was committed to doing what was necessary to get the bodies working. He pointed to the hosting of a recent workshop to launch a guide on how to confiscate the proceeds of crime as an example of that commitment.
The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill is currently before a parliamentary Special Select Committee and has to be passed by August 26 in keeping with international financial obligations. But at a news conference last week the APNU contended that the government had removed clauses from the bill which dealt with seizures.
According APNU executive Basil Williams, they had made recommendations that were adopted in Grenada whereby the Act in addition to facilitating seizures at ports of entry, would empower the authorities to seize suspected illegal proceeds throughout the country.
“That is, wherever you enter a house and you find large amounts of money, well the presumption is that it is from money laundering or financing of terrorism and they could seize it and it is up to you, you have a certain amount of time to come and challenge that seizure but the government doesn’t want that at all and we’re going to put that provision in,” he said.
The APNU and AFC last month used their majority in the National Assembly to send the bill to the Select Committee despite government’s insistence that it had to be passed by May 27 in order for Guyana to avoid sanctions.
Nandlall had attended the plenary meeting of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force last month end where he reported the government’s failure to get the bill passed in time. Upon his return he announced that Guyana had been given until November to have the legislation in place but it was last week disclosed that the actual deadline was August 26.
Nandlall has urged the opposition to put in whatever work was necessary to get the bill passed in time even if it meant pushing back the start of the parliamentary recess which runs from August 10 to October 10.
“Thirteen years we’ve been grappling with this so the bonafides … we’re not against strong anti-money laundering legislation but we’re not going to rush by days that keep changing; by the time we go back next week we may here it’s July,” APNU’s Deborah said last week.
Money laundering legislation was first instituted in 2000 before the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act was passed in 2009.
No one has ever been prosecuted for money laundering in Guyana.