Caribbean financial crimes watchdog determining Guyana’s compliance with global standards

Last Updated on Monday, 4 September 2023, 15:41 by Denis Chabrol

Attorney General Aniol Nandlall and Guyana’s delegation (right) meeting with senior representatives of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (left)

The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFTAF) on Monday began a nine-day evaluation of Guyana’s readiness to fight money laundering, and the financing of terrorism, nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

The 4th Round Mutual Evaluation of Guyana’s Anti-money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism/Countering
Proliferation Financing (AML/CFT/CPF) regime is part of the country’s international compliance obligations under the France-based Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) standards and methodology. Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall said Trafficking In Persons (TIP) has been added recently.

At the end of this on-site evaluation, a Mutual Evaluation Report will be prepared on Guyana and presented at the CFATF Plenary in March, 2024.

Speaking with representatives of stakeholder government agencies, he called on them not to shift blame to another entity during the evaluation because it is an integrated structure. “I just want to emphasise that when we begin our engagement with the assessors, let us remember that we are all one team- Team Guyana- so there may be a tendency to protect one’s agency and, in so doing, throw another agency under the bus. Let us avoid that. It’s a chain and once there is a weak link in the chain, the entire chain’s integrity becomes questionable,” he said at a forum held at Sleep In Hotel, Church Street, Georgetown.

He said Guyana in recent months passed a “very comprehensive” AML/CFT Bill and regulations, a Real Estate Agents and Brokerage Bill and a National Compliance Commission Bill.  Administratively, he said government inked a memorandum of understanding among a number of stakeholder entities.

He said the laws and regulations have been tightened with “perhaps the most modern provisions in the Caribbean” to effect seizure and forfeiture of assets that have been acquired from proceeds of crime, with assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, United States National States Courts and the Caribbean Community’s Regional Security System.

The Attorney General’s Chambers said the Assessment Team would interview several government ministers, officials and heads of agencies including from the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public
Prosecutions and the Office of the Commissioner of Police. The National Compliance Commission Bill, would govern other financial institutions “that did not have proper supervisory authority supervising them” for AML/CFT compliance and duties.

“That, in my respectful view and based all the information I have received, ought to address all the major gaps that we have had legislatively,” he added.

Other agencies which will be engaged during the process include the Guyana Revenue Authority, Deeds and Commercial Registry Authorities, Central Bank of Guyana, Guyana Securities Council, Guyana Police Force, Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit, Guyana Geology and Gold Mines Commission, the Guyana Gold Board, Real Estate Associations, local banks, insurance companies, accountants, cambios,
among others.

The CFATF Assessment Team, which arrived in Guyana over the weekend, is led by Ms. Avelon Perrry, Financial Advisor of the CFATF, who is assisted by Ms. Sunita Ramsumir, Co-Mission leader Legal Advisor of the CFATF. The other members of the Assessment Team are regional professionals in the AML/CFT/CPF Framework including Ms. Shana Donavan, Financial Assessor, Cayman Islands,
Mr. Teron Greenidge, Law Enforcement Assessor, Grenada, Ms. Nikala Bazil, Financial Assessor, Dominica and Ms. Cassandra Seetahal, Legal Assessor.