Anti Money Laundering: President touts “compromise” proposal but opposition insists on Authority

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 December 2015, 20:59 by GxMedia

President Donald Ramotar

President Donald Ramotar on Saturday said government’s counter-amendments to the Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act (AML/CFT) amounted to a compromise to address concerns by the main opposition party.

“You will observe from our counter proposal that subjectivity and discretion are wholly removed from the appointment process and almost all those persons are statutory office holders.

I believe that this formulation addresses the conceptual concern of the APNU (A Partnership for National Unity) in terms of strengthening the governance infrastructure in the law while at the same time, removing the process from the realm of politics,” the Guyanese leader told influential veteran businessman, Yesu Persaud. Persaud, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, had dabbled in the political arena through the Guyana United Action for Reform and Democracy (GUARD), a pressure group for free and fair elections. Prime Samuel Hinds was a GUARD member.

Persaud had written to Ramotar and Opposition Leader, David Granger appealing for the legislation to be passed without delay or Guyana would face considerable fallout from the regional and global financial and trade community.

APNU’s Carl Greenidge has already poured cold water on the government’s counter proposal that was presented to the special parliamentary select committee last week. Greenidge has said that the proposed Board- an adaptation of the Barbados model- would be made up of persons who are creatures of the President.

The President said his administration’s 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.

That model was mentioned by the Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) at last week’s government-sponsored AML/CFT Consultation. It was not until Demerara Waves Online News reported that the President had paid little heed to the suggestion that Junior Finance Minister, Juan Edghill said in a brief statement that it was an amended Barbados modelled Board that government had counter-proposed to the Select Committee.

While APNU partly supports government’s proposal, that opposition coalition is insisting that the AML/CFT Act be amended to provide for the establishment of an Anti Money Laundering Authority to appoint the Head and Deputy Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

APNU also envisages that the Authority would ensure that Guyana’s international obligations are honoured, that general constitutional and legal issues are honoured or that where policy is missing either they provide the policy guidance or they refer it to the parliament to cover any gaps.

Greenidge has insisted that the Board alone could not work here because Guyanese often raise questions about the integrity of ministers and how they appear to be given preferential treatment.

Western nations, the Organisation of American States (OAS), Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the Private Sector Commission have all urged swift passage of the amendments by the opposition-controlled House.

However, APNU and AFC insist that the AML/CFT governance structure must as far as practicable be insulated from political interference.