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Guyana joins Caribbean networks to go after financial criminals

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 December 2022, 18:51 by Denis Chabrol

The 55 th Plenary was attended by Dr. Gobin Ganga, Governor of Bank of Guyana,
Matthew Langewine, Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Ms. Alicia
Williams, Head of Compliance – FIU, Mr. Karim Baksh – Head of the Special Organised
Crime Unit (SOCU), Ms. Natasha Backer- Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions and
Mr. Rommel St Hill, Anti-Money Laundering/ Combatting the Financing of Terrorism
(AML/CFT), Officer in the Attorney General’s Office.

Even as Guyana prepares to join a global information-sharing network on financial crimes, the country has cemented ties with sister Caribbean countries to go after assets and combat money laundering, Attorney General Anil Nandlall said.

He said Guyana was now not only a member of the Regional Security System’s (RSS)  Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network of the Caribbean (ARIN-CARIB) but is now part of the eight-member steering group that administers that operational arm.

ARIN-CARIB, he said, focusses on informal cooperation of the law enforcement agencies to facilitate exchange of intelligence in the recovery of assets accumulated from the proceeds of crime.

The Attorney General also said Guyana’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU signed six Memoranda of Understanding with FIUs from Bermuda, Bahamas, Haiti, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands on the margins of the plenary.  “These MOUs will assist in supporting intelligence gathering and analysis related to money laundering investigations,” he said.

He also said that emerging out of the 55th plenary and working group meetings of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) that were held in the Cayman Islands from November 27 to December 1, Guyana  would soon join the Egmont Group, a platform that allows the secure exchange of information among FIUs across 137 countries.

The Attorney General said Guyana was now a step closer to acquiring membership having recently passed further necessary amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering/ Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) legislation. He said Guyana’s application is expected
to be presented to the Egmont Group’s Membership, Support and Compliance Working  Group on the Margins of the next Egmont Plenary scheduled for early 2023.

Expressing optimism that Guyana is on track in its preparation for the mutual evaluation scheduled for September 2023, Mr Nandlall said the Attorney General’s Chambers initiated additional training- a virtual 4th Round Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Standards
Training- slated for early January 2023.

The Bank of Guyana also held discussions with the CFATF on the margins of the Plenary, with regard to sector specific training for its staff in preparation for the upcoming Mutual Evaluation, while the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) met with other regional law enforcement
agencies to create strategic alliances with regard to combatting cross border related  issues of  money laundering and terrorist financing.

The Plenary which was attended by hundreds from the CFATF membership as well as FATF and other international organisations, was the first in-person meeting of the CFATF Member countries since the COVID-19 pandemic.  “At this in-person plenary, Guyana was able to strengthen its position to combat money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF) through a number of strategic alliances which occurred on the margins of the Plenary meeting. Guyana’s participation in the Plenary is in line with the Government’s commitment to
fight financial crime and money-laundering on all fronts,” the Attorney General  added.

Guyana’s announcement of ongoing efforts to go after financial crimes came as the United States, Britain, Canada and the European Union urged the Guyana government to enforce its anti-corruption laws by going after perpetrators and so send a clear message that the scourge would not be tolerated. “Guyana’s sturdy anti-corruption policies together with swift responses to evidence-based cases of corrupt practices will clearly demonstrate to Guyana’s citizens, and the rest of the world, that the government is committed to transparency, accountability, and responsiveness for the future benefit of all Guyanese,” the Western envoys here said last week.

Delegations benefitted from presentations from regional and international bodies including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the United States Department of Treasury- Office of Terrorism Financing and Financial Crimes (OTFFC). This is in addition to extensive discussions on the mutual evaluation reports of Suriname and Venezuela.

The 55th Plenary was attended by Dr. Gobin Ganga, Governor of Bank of Guyana, Matthew Langevine, Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Ms. Alicia Williams, Head of Compliance – FIU, Mr. Karim Baksh – Head of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), Ms. Natasha Backer- Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions and Mr. Rommel St Hill, Anti-Money Laundering/ Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), Officer in the Attorney General’s Office.

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