Gov’t completes work on AMLCFT Bill, Opposition boycotts planned committee meeting

Georgetown, GINA, October 23, 2013

 

In face of the looming November deadline, the Government members of the special select committee that were tasked with reviewing the amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLCFT) Act, have completed the work that have been pending since April when the Bill was tabled in the House.

            Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon at his weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at the Office of the President today, explained that subsequent to the non-productive October 14 meeting of the committee, the decision to meet on October 21 was postponed by agreement for the following day (October 22). However, neither Opposition Parties showed up for that engagement.

            As such, the committee members representing the Government side led by Chief Whip Gail Teixeira who is also the committee’s chairperson, proceeded with its work. The Bill is now scheduled to be tabled at the next sitting of the House, which should be early next month.

            The HPS said that evidence of the delaying tactics employed by the parliamentary Opposition is overwhelming. These delays commenced since prior to the beginning of the recess with the Opposition deliberately dragging their feet on the conclusion of the committee’s work and continued on October 22.

            Dr. Luncheon noted too, that the two Parties have since been using the media to explain and rationalise their actions.                

            He said that APNU is behaving as though this amendment Bill is not principally a product of and is related to Guyana’s obligations to the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF).

Guyana’s financial system was reviewed by CFATF, a process which saw the multilateral evaluation report in which several deficiencies were highlighted. 

“What we are seeing here is APNU’s rejection of this genesis and their efforts would have us believe that they are interested in having an Anti-Money Laundering Bill for all times, which fails to capture the whole spirit and intent of the multilateral evaluation mechanism employed by CFATF to ensure compliance with a State’s obligations,” the HPS contended.

There cannot be an AMLCFT Act for all times, since evaluations such as the one conducted by CFAFT, will continue interminably and more deficiencies will be uncovered since the very nature of money laundering will evolve and new strategies will be adopted by launderers, he said.

The CFATF mechanism provides for amendments to the legislation to respond as needed to the fight against money laundering.

As such, the HPS said that, the Opposition’s position of having a Bill for all times at the risk of disrupting or disadvantaging the financial sector and its engagement with foreign entities is indeed unacceptable.

“CFATF is not calling for that… because they know as we do that the money launderers of today will have new strategies tomorrow. Our legislative response would need to be amended suitably. CFATF has never sought to do what the Opposition is trying to do,” he said.

On the other hand, the AFC’s position of linking the passage and enactment of the Bill to the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) was described by the Cabinet Secretary as “ridiculous”.

“In consideration of the non-enactment of the amended Anti-Money Money Laundering Bill one would have to ask what has adversely affected us by the non-establishment of the PPC since its provisions were created under the amended constitution of 2001. If so much value is placed on the establishment of the PPC to the point of risking the financial future of our institutions then we have to ask ourselves, what has happened in the years that have gone since the PPC was not established?” Dr. Luncheon questioned.

CFATF has already prepared a draft report which will constitute the evaluation report of Guyana. In that report Guyana is scheduled to be declared a non-compliant jurisdiction. If the Bill is passed, the country will be able to prevent being blacklisted. 

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