More work to be done as Guyana welcomes removal from FATF watch list

GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Guyana must prove its effectiveness in being able to convict those who launder money and pilfer state assets if it is to remain off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) watch list.

Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General Basil Williams at a press conference held at his ministry today said that this is part of passing the fourth round Mutual Evaluation tests which are scheduled for 2020.

“The test is whether we would have shown “sufficient progress on effectiveness” for example having more conviction for offences of money laundering, terrorist financing and the purloining of state assets,” Minister Williams explained.

Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General Basil Williams

Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General Basil Williams

The Minister said that the capacity of the judicial system will have to be developed in order to meet this requirement. Minister Williams lamented the lack of training of personnel in the judicial system under the PPP/C administration to deal with such offences.

While this administration investigated charged and brought before the courts offenders, it has been unable to secure convictions. “A lot of those cases we haven’t been able to secure convictions and you have situations where large sums (were) being handed back, gold bars being handed back and so that would not be sufficient in the fourth round,” Minister Williams said.

The Legal Affairs Minister said that training for Judges, Magistrates and others in the sector will have to be done but an evaluation of on-going training is first needed. “There are several programmes some by the Canadians, some by the IDB, and so what they have to do is rationalise so that they don’t have the same thing being done by several agencies,” Minister Williams explained.

Guyana was officially removed from the FATF watch list for the combating of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation of mass destruction earlier this month at FATF’s plenary in Spain.

The successful exit from the FATF/ICRG (International Country Risk Guide) process now paves the way for it to be removed from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) monitoring process come November. CFTAF is the regional monitoring body of FATF. “We were more or less blacklisted by CFATF and the membership was ordered to take countermeasures against Guyana so people would not deal with us as they normally would and it made things difficult, transactions difficult also and so the ordinary person were affected,” Minister Williams pointed out.

Minister Williams noted that the decision by FATF was a “collective victory” for the country and praised the responsiveness of financial institutions in working towards Guyana’s removal from the watch list, “These institutions profoundly impressed the FATF/ICRG’s on site team members with their knowledge of the FATF’s standards to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.”

Minister Williams led a compliance team which conducted more than a month long sensitisation workshop with these institutions on the process. The onsite visit by the FATF/ICRG members was done in September.

Guyana’s removal from the watch list offers assurance that doing business in Guyana does not pose threats, Minister Williams noted.  “It would be much better for Guyanese businesses and Guyanese businessmen to do transactions around the world because Guyana has been cleared as a member of the international community which business could be done because it no longer poses a threat to the international financial institutions,” Minister Williams said.

 

By Tiffny Rhodius

 

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