Guyana to soon hand over bank account info to US

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 November 2015, 16:55 by GxMedia

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan said Wednesday that Guyana’s financial laws are being amended to ensure the country complies with a United States (US) law that requires other countries to hand over banking information about Americans and Permanent residents.

“What we are doing here is not in response to what’s in the press this is in  response to the Foreign Accounts Compliance Tax Act (FACTA),” said the Minister adding “we have to look at all the laws and stuff and where they may have loopholes we have to deal with that.”

FATCA is aimed at finding Americans and US Permanent Residents who hide their wealth in foreign bank accounts as a means of evading taxes.

Jordan’s disclosure comes amid an ongoing furore with Guyana’s Private Sector Commission (PSC) that has already seen that business organisation demanding greater scrutiny including data protection before banks can release accounts information to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).

Guyana, under the previous administration, has already committed to complying with the US law.

Minister of Finance Winston Jordan says that there is already adequate data protection laws for persons within existing legal framework to protect the banking information of persons in Guyana.

Jordan’s comment is in direct response to an appeal from the Private Sector Commission for Data Protection laws to be passed at the same time with the new Financial Institutions Amendment Bill.

The Minister told reporters that in the evolving world of finance there will be a need for stronger data protection laws, but that need does exist presently.

“There will be need for stronger data protection but I don’t know about the need for it immediately,” said Jordan.

The Minister stated that within Guyana’s income tax laws, the Commissioner General and Staff of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) are already bound to a code of secrecy regarding the tax information of citizens.”

He too affirmed that rightfully GRA has held the privilege of accessing such information hence the new law would just be restoring that privilege.

“What we are doing here is giving back GRA what it already had…this is really to define GRA as a government agency.”

The PSC fears that persons in GRA who have personal issues with bank account holders can ask banks to reveal their account information.

That business organisation also wants special safeguards be put in place such as a notification process to bank account holders who would then have a right to object. Also required, the PSC says, is an established authority or person who will be responsible for receiving and acting on such requests by banks.