Review banking requirements supposedly generated by anti-laundering law
Dear Editor, When the SN editorial appeared on Friday (November 23rd) on the stressful nature of commercial banking, the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) Executive Committee was finalizing a press release expressing almost identical sentiments. Rather than repeat the arguments the GHRA wishes to endorse the call for a review of the requirements supposedly generated by the Anti-Money Laundering & Countering the Finance of Terrorism Act (AML/CFTA). Those requirements, no matter how absurd or excessive, are imposed by commercial banks on to private citizens and commercial entities.
The GHRA has received a catalogue of complaints, many echoing those recounted in the SN editorial. The AML/CFTA has changed the face of local banking. Every customer is assumed to be a potential money-launderer or terrorist regardless of age, status or occupation. The AML/CFTA is to banking what fullbody searching of all passengers has become for air travel.
Every routine transaction is becoming a bureaucratic nightmare. The legislation is being invoked routinely to justify an indefensible level of systematic corporate harassment of ordinary citizens on a daily basis.
To a certain extent some Caribbean territories provoked imposition of the AML/CFTA by consciously marketing themselves as attractive destinations for financial pirates, criminal businesses, bogus companies, money-launderers and tax-evaders. Commercial banks have never prominently or publicly distanced themselves from that criminality. Yet despite knowing full well the ‘scorched earth’ application of the AML/CFTA is unnecessary and ineffective, the banks are disinclined to challenge it, particularly not for small private account-holders.
The national council of banks, appears to be equally unconcerned or unwilling to raise issues with the Central Bank or the Ministry of Finance. The callous indifference to the impact on ordinary citizens of this uninspiring leadership leaves much to be desired and ought to be a source of serious concern to all agencies and non-governmental sectors. Yours faithfully, Mike McCormack For the Executive Committee GHRA