Agreements signed for greater cooperation, information sharing, as Guyana prepares for Mutual Evaluation Exercise

The Ministry of Legal Affairs Wednesday signed two memoranda of understanding (MoU) with important agencies and authorities involved in implementing Guyana’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.

The agreements are designed to create a framework for enhanced inter-agency cooperation and information sharing on money laundering, terrorism financing, and proliferation financing.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall SC

A cooperation and information-sharing MoU was signed between law enforcement agencies, while the second was signed by competent authorities, law enforcement agencies, and supervisory authorities.

Importantly, the agreements comply with recommendation two of the Financial Action Task Force.

This is in preparation for the nation’s Mutual Evaluation Exercise which will be undertaken by the Caribbean Financial Action Taskforce (CFATF) that assesses the implementation of anti-money laundering and terrorist financing measures. It commences on September 4 and runs until September 15.

Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, speaking at the signing ceremony at Sleepin Hotel and Casino, urged the agencies to work in tandem during the mutual assessment.

“I just want to emphasise that when we begin our engagement with our assessors, let us remember that we are all one team and we are team Guyana. There may be a tendency to protect one’s agency and so doing, so throw another agency under the bus, let us avoid that,” the minister expressed sternly.

(From left: Minister Nandlall and Acting Commissioner of Police, Clifton Hicken

He also thanked the various agencies for their preparation, while noting that the government over the past two years has been working and enacting several pieces of legislation and making amendments to the legal framework, to bridge the inefficiencies identified by the financial task force.

These include the enactment of the Real Estate Agents and Brokerage Bill, AML/CFT Amendment Bill and Regulations, National Compliance Bill, as well as the signing of the agreements.

“Those bills taken together would have met our national requirements in terms of bringing our legislation up to where we are required to be. Administratively, we also had to do a number of things to ensure that we implemented the relevant recommendations,” he stated.

Head of the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU), James Singh signing the Memorandum of Understanding

He reminded that the APNU/AFC parliamentary opposition in the 2011-2015 period used its one-seat majority to block the passage of important legislation to meet the international AML/CFT requirements.

As a consequence, the minister explained that Guyana got sanctioned regionally and internationally.

“We have not yet fully recovered from those sanctions. So, we had to ensure that we bring our legislative requirements up to speed,” he noted.

A preparation workshop with the various heads of agencies was hosted following the signing of the agreements.

Agencies present at the signing ceremony include the Guyana Police Force, Guyana Revenue Authority, Ministries of Home Affairs and Legal Affairs, Bank of Guyana, Gaming Authority, Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit, and the Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard among other supervisory and law enforcement agencies.