Guyana has been given more time to pass amendments to its financial crimes legislation after the France-based Financial Action Task Force agreed that Guyana should be reviewed again in another three months.
The administration of President Donald Ramotar attributed the reprieve to public statements issued by the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (Caricom).
This is the second time in recent months that government has cranked up its information and propaganda machinery over the opposition’s stance on the Bill and the country has gotten more time to fix the law.
The amendments to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act have been held up for more than one year after the opposition insisted on several changes to tighten the main act and the recent amendment Bill.
The Parliamentary Select Committee is due to meet next week to peruse how legal draughtsmen have been able to incorporate the amendments by A Partnership for National Unity (APNU). They include provisions for the establishment of an Anti Money Laundering Authority (AML), a role for parliament to appoint staff of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and widening police and customs powers to seize cash equivalent to US$10,000 or more if there is reasonable suspicion of a financial crime.
The National Assembly meets on February 27.
Following is the full text of the statement by the Guyana government
The Government has been advised that the FATF Plenary members yesterday February 13, 2014 accepted the CFATF (ICRG) recommendation that Guyana et al be reviewed subsequent to the CFATF next Plenary’s decision in May of 2014. This is the substance of the CFATF Public Statement made in November 2013 when the National Assembly defeated the Government’s AMLCFT Amendment Bill No.12 2013 on November 7, 2013
The Government is advised that neither the FATF nor the CFATF will be issuing any Statements emanating from the Paris meeting on Guyana. The decisions of the 2013 November CFATF meeting and plan of action remain unchanged.
Further Guyana has to file a report by February 28, 2014 to the CFATF for their review and report to Plenary members in May 2014. This report will include Guyana’s plan of action to correct its deficiencies as part of the ongoing process. Guyana is expected to attach to that report the conclusions on the AMLCFT Amendment Bill No. 22, 2013 which is before the Parliamentary Special Select Committee and a copy of the said enacted Bill to be analysed, correlated to the deficiencies to provide the report to Plenary in May, 2014. Between February and May it is expected that there will be dialogue and discussions with CFATF with regards to the preparation of the report for CFATF Plenary.
If the May Plenary is dissatisfied with Guyana’s progress, the 2013 November Statement already provides the decision for the country’s referral to FATF which is meeting in June 2014.
The Government wishes to go on record to thank Guyanese citizens, civil society bodies with particular reference to the business community and their organizations, the labour movement, the diplomatic community, the Organization of American States and the CARICOM, all who publicly lent support to the Government of Guyana’s efforts in what were and continue to be “unique and unprecedented circumstances.”
The Government calls once again on the APNU and AFC leaders that the AMLCFT Amendment Bill 22, 2013 must be passed in the National Assembly as urgently as possible before the end of February, 2014.