New rules for cambio transactions take effect

-some locals balk

Persons looking to change foreign currency amounting to $20,000 and above at licenced cambios faced new rules yesterday in keeping with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Finance of Terrorism Act of 2009.

The regulation came into force yesterday and under the law the cambios are required to properly identify their customers and keep records of all transactions. Customers will now have to supply their names, address and proof of ID, either an identification card or passport.

Stabroek News checked with several of the registered cambios and managed to secure comments from Confidential Cambio at Mohamed’s Enterprise and L. Mahabeer & Sons Cambio.

Nazar Mohamed of the former said they encountered several problems with locals since many of them did not have any identification documents on them. The situation was not the same with foreigners who sought to change money, he noted. He said that in some cases where they were able to identify long-standing customers they did so and facilitated the business but he was quick to add that they will be complying with the law. “We will lose some business but hopefully everyone will realise it’s a good thing and that they have to comply and do so,” Mohamed said.

Meanwhile, an official at L.Mahabeer & Sons who declined to give his name said they were working with the system and customers were getting used to it. He added that they had not encountered any problems. When contacted, staff at several other cambios said they could not comment because their bosses were not present.

The Act was passed last year and provides for oversight of the export and insurance industries, real estate, and alternative remittance systems, and sets forth the penalties for non-compliance. It also establishes the Financial Intelligence Unit as an independent body that answers only to the President, and defines in detail its role and powers. It is seen as a significant improvement on previous anti-money laundering legislation and covers, among other things, the freezing and forfeiture of assets owned or controlled by persons suspected of engaging in money laundering activities.

The law provides for the unlawful proceeds of all serious offences to be identified, traced, frozen, and forfeited. It also provides for comprehensive powers for the prosecution of money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes and the forfeiture of the proceeds of crime and terrorist property. Included in the Bill are provisions requiring reporting entities to take preventative measures to help combat money laundering and terrorist financing and it also provides for the civil forfeiture of assets and “for matters connected therewith.”