Attorney General denies anti-laundering bill gives excessive powers to executive

Attorney General Anil Nandlall today denied a charge by Opposition Leader David Granger that the anti-laundering bill being discussed confers excessive powers on the Executive.

His statement follows:

The Bill which is before the select committee is part of a modern legislation which has been enacted in every country in the English speaking Caribbean, Commonwealth, and in North America.

In fact, it is because Guyana has not enacted it, that the country is blacklisted. Therefore the powers which this Bill resides in the various officers and entities mentioned in the Bill are similar, if not identical to, that which have been given to the same officers in like legislation worldwide.

There is no different regime of powers resided in any officer in the Guyana legislation which are not given in similar legislation which is extant in countries across the globe.

In fact, I refined many of the recommendations which came from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) from which the Bill was coined with a viewed of reducing certain powers which were recommended to reside with Ministers in the Bill.

For example, in the recommendations the Attorney General, was recommended to have powers to instruct a commercial bank to freeze any account held at that bank which the Attorney General has reasonable suspicion to believe contains proceeds of crime.

I refined that recommendation to say that the Attorney General must apply ex parte to a judge for an order to freeze the account, and must be able to satisfy that judge that he has credible and reasonable basis to suspect that the account contains proceeds of crime.

I specifically, shifted that power from the Attorney General to a judge, because I believe that the Executive branch of Government should not enjoy such plenitude of power over the citizenry as there would be a likelihood of abuse. So I shifted that power to the Judicial branch of Government.

That is only one instance of several, where I reduced powers which were recommended to be resided in the Executive and I situated in other organs.

So I reject the notion or allegation made by the Opposition Leader that the Bill resides any unusual amount of power in the Executive or that it is different from legislation of similar type existing elsewhere.

The truth of the matter is that is an unusual Bill which confers exceptional powers on all officers and entities named in the Bill because of the very nature of the Bill.

This Bill came directly out of recommendations of CATF and is not a creation of the Government. It is intended to advance exceptional remedies to suppress exceptional mischief such as: money laundering, drug trafficking, arms trade and terrorism.
There is no difference between this Bill and legislation have been enacted under AML/CFT international regime as promulgated by virtue of recommendations made by the world body the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

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