After examining a letter by businessman Yesu Persaud to government and the political parties calling for compromise to pass the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill, APNU says it sees nothing in the letter to convince it to amend its position.
The response comes a day after Alliance for Change (AFC) Leader Khemraj Ramjattan defended his party’s linking of the Anti-Money Laundering Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) (Amendment) Bill to the setting up of the Public Procurement Commission in response to the same letter.
On Friday, Persaud, former executive chairman of Demerara Distillers Ltd wrote to A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), the AFC and government urging them to find compromise with regard to passing the bill in the light of the negative implications that can result by its non-passage.
He even suggested a few areas where compromise could be reached and lamented the AFC’s and APNU’s leveraging of the bill for other political gains. Opposition Leader David Granger says he has read Persaud’s letter and is convinced that “he [Persaud] has it all wrong.”
He says nowhere does Persaud note government’s failure since 2011 to ensure that the provisions of the principal Act were enforced. Granger said that it was this failure which attracted the attention of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) in the first place, and set the stage for what has been transpiring for the last year or so.
Granger is certain that the amendments proposed by APNU will correct the flaws which render the existing AML/CFT legislation weak, and added that the letter written by Persaud falls short of justifying an amendment APNU’s current position.
Responding on behalf of the AFC on Sunday, Ramjattan also tore into government for dithering on the crucial amendments for years, and for suggesting that the APNU-proposed amendments would nullify the bill’s compliance. In essence, he said that government’s failure to do what is required of it resulted in the party adopting the position it did. While he disagreed with the letter though, he lauded Persaud’s efforts in what he sees as similar endeavours over his long career.
“All these matters and much more you have championed in your long and distinguished career. I am aware of your courage as chairman of GUARD to campaign for free and fair elections at the national and local government levels during the Hoyte presidency. I am aware of your fearlessness in speaking out against the discriminatory grant of tax-holidays to a certain government favourite and against corruption, among a number of other public matters of national importance,” Ramjattan said.