Anti-laundering reforms deal unlikely for upcoming CFATF meeting -Luncheon

Signalling that government is unlikely to give in to demands made by the parliamentary opposition, Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon yesterday stated that it is highly unlikely that the country would be ready with enacted anti-money laundering amendments for the upcoming Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) Plenary this month.

“It is quite clear Guyana will not, [or] highly unlikely,” he told a post-Cabinet press briefing yesterday, while reiterating that it was the parliamentary opposition that was holding up the process and needed to be asked why they remained averse to the bill.

“Government is not the obstacle to Guyana subscribing to CFATF and FATF guidelines neither the stakeholders, who have unanimously supported CFATF and FATF in these endeavours. It is the opposition, the parliamentary opposition APNU and AFC that remains the sole obstacle to Guyana subscribing to CFATF and FATF guidelines,” Luncheon said, while saying that it was the “responsibility of mature political parties to address” the situation.

Up to last Saturday, when a team led by CFATF Chairperson Allyson Maynard-Gibson met with both government and the opposition, the regional group continued to warn of harsh consequences that would attend Guyana’s failure to pass the long-stalled Anti-Money Laun-dering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) (Amendment) Bill. But both APNU and the AFC stuck to their demands for further amendments to the bill to make it more effective, the passage of bills with the opposition majority but not assented to by the Presi-dent as well as the set-up of the Public Procurement Commission.

Luncheon danced around the stalemate over the anti-money laundering bill, refusing to give a definitive answer as to what the administration’s next step will be considering the government is holding steadfast to its position as is the opposition. Luncheon also said that he was disappointed that the opposition chose to air its political woes over the bill during the visit by the CFATF team. He said that the opposition’s “woes are more political than legal,” which can be more detrimental to Guyana as a whole.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall on Sunday made it pellucid that cabinet would need to finally decide on how to proceed with the bill, while adding that he would not be recommending that the President assent to several rejected bills.

APNU’s deputy leader Dr Rupert Roopnaraine said last week that the “crisis” needs a political solution and suggested that Caricom could be a mediator. “…at a certain stage, faced with Guyana going over the cliff, Caricom found it necessary to intervene and our argument is that until we resolve what is essentially the political crisis we have around the money laundering bill and all of the other issues that we have as it were attached to the Bill that these required a political solution and we are available to work at that,” he said.

At the CFATF’s 39th Plenary later this month, Guyana could 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 year.

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