Regional Security System Asset Recovery Unit meets with the Attorney General

The Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, S.C, M.P, on Thursday met with a visiting delegation from the Regional Security System (RSS) Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) at the Attorney General Chambers, Carmichael Street, Georgetown. The delegation comprised Ms. Kisha Sutherland, Director (ag); Mr. Randy Alexander, Senior Financial Investigator and Ms. Chanika Carrington, Senior Legal advisor. Accompanying the Hon. Attorney General in the meeting were Ms. Joann Bond, Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel, and Mr. Romel St. Hill, Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Officer attached to the Attorney General Chambers.

The visiting team extended its expertise to Guyana’s AML/CFT structure with specific emphasis on training, capacity building and practical and technical guidance in investigating, detecting and prosecuting AML/CFT type offences including asset recovery, possessing, seizing and forfeiting proceeds from crime.

The team informed the Hon. Attorney General that they have crafted a model legislation which has widely influenced AML/CFT legislation and approaches in the Caribbean region. In this regard, the team indicated that they have done a comparative analysis between Guyana’s existing legislative framework and the model legislation, and have flagged gaps in Guyanese legislation. They have also pointed out that the model legislation has a comprehensive regime dealing with both civil and criminal forfeiture which Guyana should adopt. The Hon. Attorney General thanked the team for their timely visit in particular since Guyana is scheduled for mutual evaluation later this year.

“Currently we are drafting legislation which we are to enact speedily before the commencement of our mutual evaluation later this year. Your intervention, therefore, is not only most welcomed but it could not have been better timed. Certainly, we will accept your guidance and incorporate it in our legislative and other endeavours. We will also take advantage of your offer for capacity building at every level including at the investigative, prosecuting and adjudicative levels. We are prepared to partner with you in organising workshops to build capacity in the important agencies which form part of our AML/CFT infrastructure,” the Hon. Attorney General said.

Importantly, the Hon. Attorney General requested the RSS ARU to assist the local FIU and SOCU in certain high-profile ongoing investigations of money laundering. While in Guyana the RSS has met with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), CANU and tomorrow will meet with the DPP.

Guyana signed on with the RSS in March 2022 at the 33rd Inter-sessional meeting of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads in Belize. The Instrument of Accession for the Treaty Establishing the Regional Security System, making Guyana a member of the regional body was later signed in September 2022. Guyana is also part of the RSS Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network of the Caribbean (ARIN-CARIB) eight-member steering group that administers that operational arm.

The RSS ARU is a regional unit established to combat serious organised crime in the Caribbean common law jurisdictions, through partnership and the robust application of proceeds of crime and money laundering legislation. Currently, this Unit is seen as the center of excellence in the Eastern Caribbean in combatting serious organized crime, money laundering and the recovery of criminal assets. It commenced in November 2015, taking over from the highly successful Eastern Caribbean Financial Investigations Advisory Team (ECFIAT) and Caribbean Criminal Assets Recovery Programme (CCARP).

Based in Barbados, it covers the eight RSS Member States, namely Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent & the Grenadines. The team also provides wider regional support to include key transit countries such as Trinidad and Tobago and the overseas territories of the United Kingdom.