Pro­posed bill to abol­ish anti-money laun­der­ing au­thor­ity sent to Par­lia­ment’s ap­point­ments com­mit­tee

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

A draft bill to re­peal the sec­tion of the law which pro­vides for the estab­lish­ment of the Anti-Money Laun­der­ing Au­thor­ity has been sent to the Par­lia­men­tary Ap­point­ments Com­mit­tee for com­ments, fol­low­ing which it will en­gage the at­ten­tion of stake­hold­ers, Min­is­ter of Le­gal Af­fairs and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Basil Williams SC has said.

The au­thor­ity had been in­sisted upon by APNU and the AFC when they were in the op­po­si­tion and was in­tro­duced as a law by them when their coali­tion ac­ceded to gov­ern­ment in 2015.

Af­ter a lengthy process, the pro­posed nom­i­nees for the Au­thor­ity were iden­ti­fied and re­ferred to the Na­tional As­sem­bly for ap­proval. How­ever, dur­ing a sit­ting on March 15th, gov­ern­ment fi­nally ac­knowl­edged that the re­gional anti-money laun­der­ing watch­dog, the Caribbean Fi­nan­cial Ac­tion Task Force (CFATF), has said that a key part of the anti-money laun­der­ing frame­work is un­ac­cept­able and asked that the mo­tion to ap­prove the mem­bers be de­ferred.

Speak­ing on Fri­day dur­ing a break at a sem­i­nar or­gan­ised by his min­istry and the Anti-Money Laun­der­ing/Coun­ter­ing the Fi­nanc­ing of Ter­ror­ism (AML/CFT) Na­tional Co­or­di­nat­ing Com­mit­tee on Guyana’s prepa­ra­tions for the up­com­ing FATF fourth round mu­tual eval­u­a­tion, Williams in­formed that the rel­e­vant amend­ment to the AML/CFT Act has al­ready been drafted.

The min­istry felt that it was nec­es­sary for the draft to first en­gage the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee be­fore be­ing send­ing it to stake­hold­ers.

“The draft leg­is­la­tion has to be sent to stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing the op­po­si­tion, the pri­vate sec­tor but it hasn’t yet reach that stage. It is drafted but we have to fine tune it and send out to the stake­hold­ers,” he said when ques­tion on the is­sue by this news­pa­per.

He ex­pressed con­fi­dence amend­ments will be ready Na­tional As­sem­bly soon. that the for the

It was Williams who had on June 26th, 2015 suc­cess­fully pi­loted the bill cater­ing for the estab­lish­ment of the au­thor­ity.

When asked to ex­plain the turn of events, he said that things were set in mo­tion while gov­ern­ment was oc­cu­py­ing the op­po­si­tion benches. Ac­cord­ing to him, at that time, they did not un­der­stand what was re­ally hap­pen­ing. “We weren’t in the loop,” he said, be­fore adding that hav­ing taken of­fice and recog­nis­ing the er­ror made, gov­ern­ment is now tak­ing cor­rec­tive ac­tion.

Williams stressed that as Guyana pre­pares for the next eval­u­a­tion round, great cau­tion must be ex­er­cised be­cause “we never had a money laun­der­ing pros­e­cu­tion much less a con­vic­tion.” He said that hav­ing iden­ti­fied the main ar­eas of risk, Guyana now has to co­or­di­nate and put money into those ar­eas in time for the up­com­ing mu­tual eval­u­a­tion. The eval­u­a­tion is set for the 4th quar­ter of 2021 but the process is likely to start a year ahead of this time.

It was dur­ing an AML/CFT meet­ing here in Ge­orge­town last Novem­ber that Williams was told that the planned au­thor­ity would be il­le­gal and should not be pro­ceeded with. While Williams had later been re­ported as say­ing that the au­thor­ity would be scrapped, other mem­bers of gov­ern­ment ap­peared to be at sea as to what was hap­pen­ing.

Both the Chair­man of the Ap­point­ments Com­mit­tee Dr Ge­orge Nor­ton and Min­is­ter of State Joseph Har­mon had said sub­se­quent to Williams’ re­ported state­ment that the au­thor­ity would be go­ing ahead.

Christo­pher Ram, Gerry Gou­veia, Nicholas Dey­goo, Wayne Fordyce, Hance Manohar, Thomas Bisses­sar Singh, Fred­er­ick Collins, Mo­hamed Alli, Melissa De San­tos and Sadie Amin were the pro­posed nom­i­nees to be con­sid­ered by the House. They had been se­lected af­ter a drawn-out process that en­tailed ex­ten­sive back­ground checks.

The mo­tion to ap­prove their ap­point­ments, which was in the name of Dr Nor­ton, stated that the Pri­vate Sec­tor Com­mis­sion (PSC), Guyana As­so­ci­a­tion of Bankers (GAB), the In­sti­tute of Char­tered Ac­coun­tants of Guyana (ICAG), the Trans­parency In­sti­tute of Guyana Inc. (TIGI), the Guyana Bar As­so­ci­a­tion, the In­surance In­sti­tute of Guyana (IIG), the Guyana As­so­ci­a­tion of Women Lawyers (GAWL) and the Guyana Se­cu­ri­ties Coun­cil (GSC) were con­sulted on the nom­i­nees.

Dey­goo and Gou­veia were nom­i­nated by the PSC, Fordyce by the GAB, Manohar by the ICAG, Singh and Collins by TIGI, Ram and Alli by the Bar As­so­ci­a­tion, De San­tos by the IIG and Amin by the GAWL.

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