AG says August 26 is deadline for money laundering amendments

-Ramjattan differs

Attorney General (AG) Anil Nandlall says that the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF)  has set August 26th as the actual deadline for Guyana to submit anti-money laundering amendments but AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan says the Minister is misinterpreting the correspondence.

Speaking on the issue yesterday Nandlall said that the CFATF has indicated that Guyana is to submit documents on the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill by or before August 26th if it wishes to be considered at the body’s next meeting in November.

Khemraj Ramjattan
Khemraj Ramjattan

Initially, Nandlall, who was part of a team which represented Guyana at the body’s Plenary meeting last month in Nicaragua, had stated that the CFATF, finding that Guyana had failed to take sufficient steps to address concerns raised by the May 27th deadline, decided to extend the deadline to November.

However the AG said the CFATF now requires that documents be submitted  nearly three months in advance.

“Remember, documents are required to be submitted to study by these organisations before the date of the meeting itself.

So a letter was dispatched by us to CFATF requesting the actual deadline for us to submit the bill as passed by parliament to the body for consideration ahead of the November meeting,” Nandlall said.

The request was reportedly made at the behest of opposition members of the Special Select Committee charged with examining the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill before it can be brought back to the National Assembly and passed. Nandlall stated that members of the opposition had indicated that they preferred to receive such information from the CFATF as against from members of government.

Nandlall further said “we received a reply that indicated to us that August the 26th is actually the deadline that we have to submit the amendment passed into law to the CFATF to have it considered at the November plenary.”

The AG said the response, in the form of a letter, was received two days ago and was circulated to all members of the committee.

When Stabroek News caught up with APNU MPs Basil Williams and Debra Backer, both of whom serve on the committee, they indicated that they had not received any such correspondence.

Williams did however express suspicion at the development. He said that he found it strange that Nandlall is now saying that the actual deadline is in August, despite his initial disclosure that the CFATF had set November as the new deadline.

Ramjattan, on the other hand, did receive the letter and said that Minister seems to be intentionally misinterpreting the letter in an effort to gain traction towards pushing for the speedy passing of the bill.

In fact, Ramjattan says, nowhere in the letter suggests anything near what is being claimed by the Attorney General.

In the letter, seen by Stabroek News, the CFATF writes to Paul Geer, Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit making particular requests.

The letter, in part, reads: “We would appreciate you updating your previous with actions undertaken by Guyana since the last written report for the Plenary in May 2013.”

“Please also submit along with the matrix, copies of any legislation, regulations or guidance notes that may have been enacted as part of action undertaken to comply with the mutual evaluation reports recommendations. Details of relevant statistics should also be submitted where necessary to support the effective implementation and address any deficiencies noted in the column labeled summary of factors underlying ratings in the  matrix. Timeline with stated deadline for proposed actions should also be included where possible.”

“Information should also be provided on the size of the financial sector as at end of June 2013 or the date nearest and any technical assistance received, requested or obtained during the first half of 2013. Responses to the secretariat should be submitted by August 26th 2013. This deadline is necessary to facilitate a proper review of any changes to your matrix and the requisite review and update of the follow up analysis report and translation to Spanish.”

“Please be advised that in accordance with a decision made at the May 2010 Plenary, your report will not be presented at the November 2013 Plenary unless it has been determined that there are issues to be discussed.”

Considering the content of the letter Ramjattan said that Nandlall’s inferences are incorrect. Furthermore, he said that even if the letter did suggest what is being claimed by the AG, the AFC still intends to take its time to consider the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill.

He went on to state that he is not optimistic that the bill’s consideration will be completed by August 26th. He said that as things stand, the AFC will continue to work with November as the deadline for the work on the bill to be completed.

Regardless however, Ramjattan said that the AFC will still withhold support for the AML/CFT (Amendment) if the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) is not set up, and the two opposition bills vetoed by President Donald Ramotar are not reconsidered.

Nandlall said that government hopes to reason with the opposition in an effort to restructure the committee’s timetable.

As things stands, the committee is scheduled to meet again on July 3rd, at which time particular stakeholders will be given the opportunity to make recommendations.

The AG said that it is imperative that the process is expedited especially in light of the upcoming recess in mid-August which will last for two months. Nandlall said that the government is prepared to explore several options, including even holding off on the parliamentary recess until the bill is passed.

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