FIU hands over money laundering risk assessment and action plans to Finance Minister

DPI/GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Government will continue its effort to ensure that Guyana’s Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) strategy is strengthened. This is part of its continued effort to protect the country’s financial system and sector from money launders, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan said.

The Finance Minister emphasised Guyana’s efforts as he received the country’s first, “The Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing National Risk Assessment Report and Risk Based Action Plan” from the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU,) Matthew Langevine. The minister received the documents earlier today in the boardroom of the Ministry on Main Street.

Minister of Finance Winston Jordan receiving the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment Report and Risk Based Action Plan from the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU,) Matthew Langevine

“We have come to realise the impact of (Money Laundering/Terrorist Financing) ML/TF risks on the economic growth of the country as well as our role in the global fight against ML/TF. The threat of terrorist financing, too, is becoming an ever increasing real and present danger for countries in the Caribbean. The experience of our sister CARICOM (Caribbean Community) country, Trinidad and Tobago, should be cause for us to redouble our efforts to protect our country from the grasp, reach and clutches of terrorists and their deadly activities,” the Minister said.

Jordan described the documents’ completion as an important achievement as it marks the start of Guyana’s preparation for the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) Fourth Round of Mutual Evaluations.

He stressed that it is also symbolic of the government’s commitment to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, in accordance with the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) standards. “Having conducted the National Risk Assessment (NRA) exercise, Guyana can now more easily identify, assess, and understand its (ML/TF) risks and prioritise actions according to the levels of risk,” he explained.

Guyana is scheduled to be evaluated under the Fourth Round in 2022. The completion of a NRA Report supported by a risk-based Action Plan is only one of FATF’s forty (40) recommendations which countries will be assessed on, during the Fourth Round Mutual Evaluation process.

Minister Jordan noted that is indeed a long road ahead, but notwithstanding, it is his government’s intention to “establish a team to review the NRA Report and Action Plan, and to develop and manage a National Strategy to combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.” He noted that this is in keeping with FATF Recommendation 2, which requires countries to have national AML/CFT policies that are informed by the risks identified.

He said too that education and awareness must be priorities for the country, and that stakeholders must be encouraged to do all they can to participate in the implementation of the country’s AML/CFT regime.

In presenting the documents to the Minister, FIU Director, Langevine emphasised three important things. The first of which, he stated, is to “ensure that the documents never become dust.” He pointed out that, “This is a living document that requires a lot of work. There is much that needs to be done for our AMLCFT Regime to get where it needs to be to have a successful mutual evaluation in 2022. We need all hands, all agencies and entities on board to implement the recommendations within the Action Plan. A great deal of work is required relating to updating legislation. Stakeholders also need to effectively execute their roles. These include reporting entities, supervisors and other regulators.”

Langevine also pointed out that the recommendation two (2) of the FATF 40 recommendations requires that the NRA process be reviewed regularly. He said that best practice is for this to be done every three to four years. He also advised that an authority or body be identified to coordinate the country’s AMLCFT policies. “This ensures there is a documented national strategy that emphasises cooperation and coordination of efforts between the policy makers, FIU, the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and other competent authorities, to combat ML, TF and proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD,)” Langevine said.

“Getting this right will also not be cheap, but it is an investment that we cannot afford not to make. The alternative will be much costlier to our nation and its citizens,” he warned.

The NRA Report and Risk Based Action Plan are the result of fourteen (14) months of arduous work by 74 persons from 21 Government Agencies and 17 Private Sector entities. The documents are based on extensive data accumulation and analysis. The NRA identifies the vulnerable and high-risk sectors of the country’s economy, as it relates to ML and TF. The detailed action plan addresses how to mitigate these identified risks.

 

By: Macalia Santos

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