Guyana’s Fourth round CFATF evaluations dependent on SOCU’s success -Dr. Sittlington

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Guyana’s Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Matthew Langevine was appointed Head of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) Forum for Heads of the FIUs, in November 2017. However, Financial Investigations mentor to the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) Dr. Sam Sittlington said the agency’s success rate is critical to the country’s fourth round of CFATF mutual evaluations.

Dr. Sam Sittlington.

“…Very important the role of SOCU in terms of Guyana because you’re measured in your fourth evaluation. Mutual valuation in terms of the number of prosecutions you have for money laundering and terrorist financing also you are measured by the number of assets you have confiscated at the end of a court procedure. It is very important that they are supported in all that they do. They have a lot of cases, as mentioned they have over three hundred cases”, Dr. Sittlington said.

In addition, the financial investigations specialist noted that SOCU is currently involved in investigating and prosecuting financial crimes valued at approximately $300B.

He explained, “To date, they have 26 audits, four of those forensic audits have gone to people being charged and court procedures. Only in those four cases, you are looking at estimated sums of $116B so there is quite a substantial amount of money involved in these types of cases. The other 22 forensic audits you are looking at somewhere in the region of $170B.”

According to Dr. Sittlington, SOCU currently has 39 referrals from the FIU of which only two have been brought before the court.

Under the previous administration, Guyana was blacklisted for failing to enact the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism  –  AML/CFT legislation. The country was later removed, following the government’s passage of the AML/CFT Amendment Bill 2015.

The fourth round of the Financial Action Task Force’s mutual evaluation involves two inter-related components – for technical compliance and effectiveness. The technical compliance factor assesses whether the necessary laws, regulations or other required measures are in force and are effective, also whether the supporting AML/CFT institutional framework is in place. The effectiveness component assesses whether the AML/CFT systems are working, and the extent to which the country is achieving the defined set of outcomes.

SOCU was established in 2014, as a result of recommendations from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It covers a number of responsibilities in terms of the investigation of money laundering and financing and recommendations 30, 31 and 32 in the legislation. It also specifically covers the areas that SOCU would be involved, namely what law enforcement should do to investigate money laundering and financing, what sort of procedures and laws they should use to do that  and what sort of cooperation they should obtain, from not just the decision-makers in government, but also from the public and private sector.

 

By: Kidackie Amsterdam

 

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