President Ali lauds Guyana’s progress with anti-money laundering regime

As a direct result of the government’s rigorous policies and legislation since 2020, Guyana has made notable strides within the Anti-Money Laundering, Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Regime.  

President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, during a press conference at State House on Thursday, said that Guyana’s latest evaluation outlined that the country’s assessment of risk, national coordination, and operationalisation of the FIU was praised.

President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali

“Approximately, 88% of our legislative requirements were found to be compliant or largely compliant, with 12% as partially compliant, which we are currently working on to address through measures such as the drafting of the new bills related to companies, trusts, and the management of depreciating confiscated assets,” the president told reporters.

To paint a more comprehensive picture of the challenges they had to overcome to achieve this feat, the president said the government was at a disadvantage for two years of the assessed period. He referred to 2018 and 2019, which featured very little tangible action taken by the then government.

“The government therefore had to embark on a novel collaborative process, which brought Guyanese together from the public and private sector in areas of finance, natural resource, beneficial ownership, and law enforcement in meeting these goals,” he said, applauding the efforts of these stakeholders.

When the PPP/C government assumed office, key deficiencies were outlined that needed to be addressed.

These included the need for more human and financial resources for the Special Organised Crime Unit, a lack of subversive oversight for accountants, and legislative deficiencies in the areas of confiscation and targeted financial sanctions, among others.

Since then, the government has taken action to address these issues, filling the critical gaps in the system. They implemented policies to increase transparency, accountability, and enforceability, building a stronger system overall.

“We completed our national risk assessment in 2021, providing an updated view of the country’s framework. We completed the development of an action plan towards [the] targeting of resources to adequately combat and prevent money laundering and terrorist financing in the country,” he explained.

The government also rectified several legislative and administrative deficiencies that prevented the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) from participating in the global information exchange body for other FIUs.

In February of this year, Guyana was able to join the prestigious Egmont Group which is the International Association of Financial Intelligence Units. With this membership, the country can better tackle these challenges through enhanced collaboration. 

Legislative Interventions

In 2023, the Guyana Compliance Commission Act was passed in the National Assembly, providing much-needed supervisory oversight for designated non-financial businesses or professions and non-bank financial institutions.

Essentially, this legislation paves the way for enhancing the compliance, guidance and training regime on money laundering, and terrorism financing in Guyana.

Additionally, the Real Estate Agents and Brokers Bill which was recently passed, establishes a code of conduct for real estate agents and brokers

Robust amendments were also made to the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act of 2009 in 2023, fortifying the administration’s dedication to meeting the best-practiced standards of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

These amendments significantly strengthen the government’s legislative ability to forfeit assets and proceeds of crime.

“On the enforcement side, we saw significant action in cash seizures by GRA, seizure of gold by Customs Authority and Guyana Police Force, seizure and restraint of vehicles by CANU and SOCU, as well as other instrumentalities such as aircraft and marine assets,” the head of state added.

These monumental strides received technical support from the International Financing Agency, the National Centre for State Courts, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force, and the Regional Security System Asset Recovery Unit.

“These results are not accidental at all. They’re based on strong work and commitment, and I’m very pleased with the commitment and work in achieving this result,” the president asserted.