AML/CFT Bill lays necessary foundation – AG Williams

DPI, Guyana, Friday, July 27, 2018

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, SC., during today’s sitting of the National Assembly re-emphasised the importance of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill to strengthening the country’s AML/CFT and Proliferation Financing (PF) regime in line with international standards.

The Bill was read for the second time in the House. It seeks to amend the AML/CFT Act and related legislation to strengthen the regime for combatting money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing (AML/CFT/PF).

Since assuming office, the Coalition Government, the Attorney General said, has put systems in place to remove Guyana from the blacklists of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, SC,

Strengthening of the AML/CFT/PF regime, he noted, has become a priority around the world, given its necessity to protecting financial systems and institutions from money launderers.

The AG said the Bill is not only a moral imperative but an economic need since blacklisting by the CFATF and FATF affects trading and corresponding banking relations with international financial institutions.

The government, he said, has demonstrated the political will for tackling the scourge.

Guyana is now in its fourth round of mutual evaluation, which means that by 2022 the country must be technically compliant and also demonstrate how effective the system is in combatting AML/CFT/ PF.

Among the amendments, Clause Three of the Bill seeks to amend Section 7A of the Principal Act to satisfy recommendation 2 of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which states that countries should designate an authority to have a mechanism that is responsible for national AML/CFT/PF policies.

This will see the establishment of the AML/CFT/PF National Coordination Committee.

The committee will comprise the Attorney General, as Chair, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Governor of the Bank of Guyana, the Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Head of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board, the Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Chairperson of the Guyana Securities Council, Chairperson of the Gaming Authority and the Chief Cooperatives and Development Officers.

Some of the committee’s responsibilities will include developing national AML/CFT/PF policies informed by the risks identified in the recently completed National Risk Assessment and to develop a national action plan which includes recommendations to enable the respective agencies to competently tackle money laundering and related crimes.

Under the previous administration, the AG argued that the FIU was seen as the AML/CFT regime when it was just a component. Now the FIU, AG Chambers, SOCU, Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), GGMC, the Gold Board and other agencies have signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) for information sharing.

The Bill also amends sections of the Act to cater for stricter penalties and systems to address proliferation financing.

The Bill, AG Williams said, lays the necessary foundation and ensures that the related agencies coordinate and that Guyana is in compliance with all 40 recommendations of the FATF and other regulations.

The Bill is currently being debated in the House.

Stacy Carmichael

Image: Jameel Mohamed

Editor’s Note:

CFATF is an observer member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) an intergovernmental organisation that designs and promotes policies and standards to combat financial crime.

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) an intergovernmental organisation that designs and promotes policies and standards to combat financial crime.