T&T, BVI financial intelligence czars checking on Guyana’s readiness for membership of global system

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 April 2023, 22:26 by Denis Chabrol

Top financial intelligence officials of Trinidad and Tobago, and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are in Guyana on a fact-finding mission as part of steps to support this country’s application to join a global financial intelligence-sharing network, Attorney General Anil Nandlall said Tuesday night.

While Mr Nandlall was confident that Guyana would be admitted to the Egmont Group in 2024, he said the due diligence by the sponsoring members was necessary. “As part of the application process and in order to meet the qualification, an on-site visit has to be conducted by these persons representing the FIUs of the two countries to see that Guyana qualifies,” he said.

The Egmont is a conglomerate of 160 countries’ Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), making it the largest platform for the gathering and exchange of intelligence and evidence for investigations into money laundering and funding of terrorist activities

The Attorney General said the report he received from the the Trinidad and Tobago, and BVI FIU officials indicates that Guyana has satisfied several conditions such as the reporting structure, investigative capacity and laws as well as a close working relationship with FIUs in the region. “I believe that we have satisfied all those requirements and the report which I have received from the two gentlemen is a favourable one,” he said.

Mr. Nigel Stoddard, Acting Director of  Trinidad and Tobago’s FIU and Mr. Errol George, Director of the Financial Investigation Agency of the British Virgin Islands were Wednesday scheduled to meet with representatives of commercial banks, the Guyana Securities Council and related agencies.

Asked whether the two-member team recommended any other steps that Guyana should take to further strengthen its case, he said three Bills were being drafted to amend the main Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism Act in keeping with recommendations by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and the Financial Action Task Force. He said the amendments would also strengthen Guyana’s asset recovery and civil forfeiture capacity, emerging out of recommendations from a United States State Courts asset recovery workshop here and model legislation by the Regional Security System. “They have pointed to us weaknesses in terms of our civil forfeiture provisions as well as the asset recovery recommendations,” he said. The law would also be amended to establish an “omnibus body” to supervise other entities that are involved in large scale transactions.

He said Guyana was also preparing to take legislation to the House to regulate the real estate industry.

The Attorney General said those three pieces of legislation were expected to be approved by the National Assembly before Guyana is subjected to another round of mutual assessment in September, 2023.