Anti-money laundering sensitization for attorneys

By Delicia Haynes

DPI, Guyana, Friday, May 17, 2019

Several attorneys-at-law today participated in an Anti-Money Laundering – Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) sensitisation workshop. They were given insight on how to avoid being involved in terrorism financing and money laundering activities.

Today was the first day of a two-day exercise. On the second day accountants and auditors will be engaged.

The sessions are being facilitated by the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Dawne Spicer, Executive Director of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF). The sensitization workshop has been lauded as the first and most important step in making Designated Non-Financial Businesses or Professions (DNFBPs) in Guyana compliant with AML/CFT laws.

While delivering opening remarks, Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General Basil Williams, said that coming out of a National Risk Assessment report it was found that attorneys are most vulnerable to being used for money laundering and terrorist financing. For this reason the workshop was considered timely.

Quoting findings from a previous report on money laundering and financing of terrorism AG Williams said, “criminals seek out the involvement of legal professionals in their money laundering and terrorist financing activities, sometimes because the legal professionals are required to complete certain transactions and access services which could assist the laundering of the proceeds of crime and the funding of terrorism.”

The Attorney General further noted that since Guyana is on the cusp of economic transformation, it is better for Guyana to not be known as a safe haven for criminals.

“If we are known as a safe haven for criminals then this will be a deterrent to investors. The devasting effect of these financial crimes is that it can destroy the economy and taint the integrity of our financial institutions. Also, if members of the legal profession are involved in illicit activities, knowingly or unknowingly, the public will lose confidence in the integrity of the legal profession,” the AG explained.

Also, in attendance at the workshop were Speaker of the National Assembly Dr. Barton Scotland, President of the Guyana Bar Association Kamal Ramkarran and Commissioner of Police Leslie James, DSS.

Ramkarran noted that the AML/CFT laws are not there to harass persons but rather to prevent such crimes. He added that this particular training will add to the knowledge of the legal practitioners, helping them to remove uncertainties and fears they may have of the laws.

It was also stressed that the hosting of such workshops is critical even as Guyana prepares for a 4th Round Mutual Evaluation for CFATF slated for 2022.

Images: Ameer Sattaur