Stakeholders’ cooperation, commitment necessary for CFATF/ FATF compliance – AG

GINA, Guyana, Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The need for Guyana to be fully compliant with the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) regulations was reiterated today, as a Financial Risk Assessment Workshop began.

The two-day event, underway at the Marriott Hotel, Kingston, Georgetown, was opened by Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams. He urged that all stakeholders and agencies, in particular, cooperate and share information as “It requires a total commitment on the part of all the relevant stakeholders.” This, he added, means that information and evidence must be shared among the Guyana Police Force (GPF), Customs Anti Narcotic Unit, the State Asset Recovery Unit, (SARU), the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and financial institutions.

Attorney General/Minister of Legal Affairs Basil Williams opening the Guyana Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism National Risk Assessment’s Final Workshop at the Marriott Hotel

Minister Williams emphasised that no one’s constitutional rights must be taken away, but as in every international agency, the buzz words are cooperation and collaboration as “this is the only way to be effective.”

Eleven (11) key goals, he noted, have been identified by FATF and these will be checked to ensure that Guyana meets the specified requirements. These include links for positive coordination, international cooperation, supervisory and appropriate monitoring of financial institutions, and money laundering investigations and prosecutions.

Minister Williams further noted that training will be needed for police ranks, state counsels, financial analysts and other personnel to ensure that all the measures are effective.

In closing, he noted that the challenges, which are global in nature, can affect the stability and prosperity of any country, “Therefore let us not take them risk- based approach for granted, by letting the work done by you, the stakeholders, be in vain. Let it be the catalyst for positive change.”

Thanking all of the stakeholders for their efforts was Finance Minister Winston Jordan who preceded his Cabinet colleague. Minister Jordan noted that despite, “significant progress made over the last two years,” all efforts will be made to enact legislation that will “address new threats and vulnerabilities.” He added, “Now that the National Risk Assessment Working Group has completed a comprehensive assessment of Guyana’s inherent risks, the National Action Plan, he added will not only satisfy FATF’s recommendations, but also form the basis of efficient allocation of the country’s scarce resources.”

These and other measures as part of the anti- money laundering regime, he said will ensure  Guyana is protected from the severity of the “de-risking practices” and sustain the level of development locally.

Some of the stakeholders at the opening of the Guyana Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism National Risk Assessment’s Final Workshop at the Marriott Hotel

The Minister added that Guyana is on a mission to enhance bilateral inclusion, to reduce poverty and promote national development hence he was happy that financial inclusion was aptly addressed during the National Risk Assessment exercise that was conducted earlier. This was because government wants to ensure that regulations do not unintentionally exclude businesses and individuals from the formal financial system.

Lauding the efforts being made towards achieving compliance, Inter- American Development Bank Country Representative, Sophie Makonnen posited that that the “hard work was now beginning despite the past efforts and goals achieved.” She pledged the IDB’s continued commitment towards enabling Guyana to fulfill the requirements needed.

Giving brief remarks, Senior Financial Sector Special World Bank, Stuart Yikona said that the hard work done must be commended. He also thanked the IDB for funding the two- day event and the United States Government for enabling the use of a consultant to assist in the overall process.

An overview of the process, and gains made thus far locally was given by the Financial Intelligence Unit’s Director, Matthew Langevine. He explained that Guyana was now entering the fourth round of protocols having successfully passed the third round. He noted that the initial stages have been met with relief from various stakeholders such as those in the banking and business community. They are now able to conduct business transactions, without the attendant stress of additional paperwork and red tape, due to the progress made.

The CFATF/ FATF regulations are intended to ensure that countries are able to effectively combat anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism by implementing a series of internationally recognised measures and legislation.

By: Paul McAdam