CFATF head for visit on stalled anti-laundering bill

Chairperson of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) Allyson Maynard-Gibson will lead a visit by the regional body to Guyana tomorrow for discussions on the delayed anti-money laundering bill and opposition parties plan to justify their insistence on pre-conditions being met for its passage.

“They will be coming in on Saturday with the expectation of meeting the government and opposition parties, the Caricom Secretary General as well as the PSC [Private Sector Commission]… to re-emphasise the importance of a CFATF-compliant bill,” Attorney General Anil Nandlall told Stabroek News last evening, following a meeting of the parliamentary committee currently responsible for the stalled Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) (Amendment) Bill.

There have already been several visits by CFATF officials on the bill.

Nandlall signalled that the executive remains concerned that the bill may not be passed by the time the CFATF plenary begins next month. It is hoping that the impending meetings would serve to convince the opposition about the importance of having the bill passed for Guyana and about the repercussions the failure to do so could have. “The meeting is also to explain implications its non-passage will have on Guyana, the Caribbean and even CFATF as a governing body,” he noted.

The committee was informed last evening about the visit by Maynard-Gibson, who is the Attorney General of The Bahamas, and other CFATF officials.

The visit comes ahead of the 39th Plenary of the CFATF next month, when Guyana could potentially face a call for stronger sanctions in light of its failure to pass the needed legislation in keeping with recommendations by the regional body. Guyana has already been placed on a list of non-compliant countries after it failed to pass the bill last November.

Currently, both members of the parliamentary opposition parties – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) – have made their support for the amendment bill conditional.

AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan told Stabroek News last evening that he will play an active part in the discussions with the CFATF officials, where his main goal will be to explain the consequences of not having local government elections for 20 years or a Public Procurement Commission (PPC), which are the main conditions for his party’s support of the bill. The AFC has also recently linked its support for the legislation to demands made by main opposition APNU, which has asked for presidential assent to be given to legislation that was passed by the opposition-controlled National Assembly, among other things.

Meanwhile, APNU executive Carl Greenidge told Stabroek News that the opposition coalition was looking forward to meeting with the CFATF officials as it would once again like to communicate its position on why the bill is stalled.

“The APNU has indicated its willingness to meet with them because we know this is too sensitive a matter to have government and the Attorney General relay to them for us,” he said.

“We will tell them we want them to know that Guyana is just not another place in which legislation is being drafted… it is a place where constitutional and fundamental rights are constantly abused and therefore there need to be safeguards before we are prepared to give additional powers to government,” he added.

Meanwhile, Nandlall also told Stabroek News that while the committee continues to examine the proposals made for the legislation by APNU, the government’s members are concerned that they include a recommendation that appointments be made from the National Assembly.

He said that because of the amount of persons comprising the National Assembly, his party finds it difficult comprehending how the many signatures will fit on a stipulated document.

“I don’t know where in the world a National Assembly makes appointments. A National Assembly may make recommendations, approve a person to be appointed but not make appointments,” he said. “Who will sign the instrument all 65 persons? That is an eventuality that is almost miraculous,” he added.

When the committee met last evening, APNU had yet to fill the vacancy created by the recent resignation of Jaipaul Sharma from the National Assembly. A source told Stabroek News that it seemed that APNU was not aware that that committee member would no longer be part of the proceedings given his resignation from the National Assembly as APNU members expressed alarm that his chair had not been filled. It is unclear who will fill the post next Wednesday when the committee meets again.

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