Stakeholders can contribute to anti-money laundering bill – Backer

Non-government stakeholders will be given the opportunity to contribute their two cents when the Special Select Committee responsible for considering the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill next meets on July 3, says APNU MP Deborah Backer.

The committee met again last Wednesday after its last meeting on May 24. Last month, Backer had said that much work was done at the meeting, especially since several of its members, being lawyers, had to be excused.
It should be noted that the decision to schedule the June 12 meeting was made despite the fact that government was pushing for the bill’s completion by May 27.

The government had said that if the Bill was not passed by the May 27 then Guyana would be found wanting when its representatives appeared before the Caribbean Finan-cial Action Task Force (CFATF) during the body’s 37th plenary meeting in Nicaragua, from May 27 to 30.

The CFATF, however, extended the deadline to November after finding that the country had not taken sufficient steps to address recommendations which were made to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Last week’s meeting also did not yield much fruit and the committee is now slated to meet again on July 3 when interested stakeholders are expected to make contributions to the bill’s consideration.

Stabroek News understands that Director of Public Prosecutions Shalimar Ali-Hack, Chartered Accountant and Attorney Christopher Ram and the Bank of Guyana are a few of the stakeholders expected to give their opinions on changes to be made to the legislation, although it is not certain if any of these bodies will make an appearance at the meeting early next month.

Backer said the committee has agreed, as a matter of principle, that the stakeholders be allowed to contribute to the bill’s consideration. She said that once passed the bill will govern all of its stakeholders. As such, she said, “we opened it up to the public.” She said that these participants may even come up with ideas which had not been thought of by members of the committee. This, she said, can be quite helpful in creating a law which is acceptable to all Guyanese.

She stated though, that the committee is not obligated to operationalise any of the recommendations made.

Meanwhile, Backer said, APNU is still not ready to reveal its own amendment proposals. Opposition Leader David Granger had said the party was planning to propose amendments of its own, in addition to considering those made by the government. He said last month, however, that the party was not yet ready to make these proposals known. According to Backer, this position has not yet changed.

Additionally, the Alliance for Change (AFC) has maintained that it will continue participation in the committee but will not support the bill when it returns to the National Assembly unless the government grants several concessions.

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