Gov’t tabling more amendments to anti-money laundering law

Just months after passing key amendments to the anti-money laundering law, following a bitter three-year battle, the APNU+AFC administration is moving to make more changes.

The Order Paper for the next sitting of the National Assembly, scheduled for December 17th, lists for first reading the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2015.

Tabling of the bill will lend credence to arguments raised by the opposition PPP/C and others that the amendment bill passed by the government in June this year fell short of the complete requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which has had Guyana under review for several years now.

Also down to be presented at Thursday’s sitting will be regulations to go with the anti-money laundering Act.

At the session, the government will also table the Anti-Terrorism and Terrorist Related Activities Bill 2015. It is described as a bill to “criminalise terrorism, and terrorist related activities and to provide for the detection, prevention, conviction and punishment of terrorism and terrorist related activities.”

Passed in June this year, the contentious Anti-Money Laundering Act had been under discussion since 2012 and a PPP/C version of it tabled in 2013 failed to win approval as the then opposition majority in the 10th Parliament wanted deeper safeguards and more expansive legislation. The standoff saw Guyana being blacklisted by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and the FATF.

In October this year, Attorney-General Basil Williams said that Guyana had managed to fully implement five of the eight recommendations made by the FATF in relation to anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism.

The other three recommendations have been partially implemented, he added.

The five recommendations implemented are criminalising money laundering and the financing of terrorism; confiscation and provisional measures; financial institutions secrecy laws; reporting of suspicious transactions; and the provision for the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

Guyana had made some progress in customer due diligence and beneficial ownership; targeted financial sanctions relating to terrorist and terrorist financing and the AML/CTF supervisory regime recommendations, Williams further said.

FATF, in a statement, said that more work remains to be done and urged Guyana to continue to implement its action plan, including by ensuring and implementing an adequate legal framework for identifying, tracing and freezing terrorist assets; ensuring a fully operational and effectively functioning financial intelligence unit; establishing effective measures for customer due diligence and enhancing financial transparency; and implementing an adequate supervisory framework.

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