Re­view banking re­quire­ments sup­pos­edly gen­er­ated by anti-laun­der­ing law

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

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

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