CFATF finds greater compliance by Guyana in meeting anti-money laundering proposals

In its latest report, the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) has concluded that Guyana has significantly improved its overall compliance in establishing its anti-money laundering architecture, Attorney-General Basil Williams said yesterday, while adding that the country would have to report at the next plenary later this year due to the outstanding actions to be taken.

“Guyana should be commended for the improvement in compliance,” Williams read from the report yesterday during a press briefing at his office, where he said Guyana is seeking to exit the process very soon.

According to him, the CFATF 10th follow-up report, issued on May 13, cited the new developments in Guyana as the enactment of the Anti-Money Laundering and the Countering of the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) (Amendment) Act 2016 and the Anti-Terrorism and Terrorist Related Activities Act of 2015 in May 2016.

“The overall level of compliance has improved… having met all recommended actions,” Williams read from the report. He added that the report stated that there has been substantial improvements in the compliance of other recommendations.

On May 4, after almost two hours of heated debate, government passed the AML/CFT (Amendment) Bill.

The bill, which was finalised without the input of the opposition, was published in the Official Gazette on April 15 and represented the second time in less than a year that amendments to the law were being taken before the National Assembly. Two rounds of consultations on a draft bill were held.

In a letter, dated January 14, 2016, the CFATF wrote Guyana informing that as per its 9th Follow-Up Report, one Core and five Key recommendations were still outstanding, which precluded Guyana from applying to exit the Follow-Up process in May, 2016. It is hoped that with this new report the country will exit.

Meanwhile, when questioned Williams said the government is not worried about the lack of support to the process of meeting the necessary requirements, while pointing out that the administration inherited a system where Guyana was cited three times in a public statement by CFATF. On two of those occasions, the CFATF warned its members to take counter measures to protect their systems from Guyana.

“We met Guyana in a FATF system with many recommendations outstanding and we have moved from that position to where I sit now to only [a] remaining recommendation which was partially met, so it is like half of a recommendation that is left,” the Attorney-General said.

He said the government is confident that it has remedied the remaining recommendation. He said the country is looking to start the process of exiting the FATF process and it is hoped that at the next meeting in South Korea in June the country would see a decision that will trigger an on-site visit to Guyana. Should Guyana exit this process, Williams noted that the country would still have to deal with the fourth round, where it would be assessed on how it is implementing the various measures and recommendations.

He said that it is important to note that before the FATF meeting, the country is required to attend an Americas Regional Review Group (ARRG) meeting and the fact that the group has asked Guyana to meet with them in the margins of the CFATF meeting demonstrates that “there is nothing much of consequence left to discuss.”

Questioned about the staffing of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), which is part of meeting all the necessary requirements, Williams stated that this falls within the realms of the Appointments Committee of Parliament, which is engaged in the process of looking at applications to determine who should be appointed director of the unit and the other three positions advertised.

Williams said that the committee has a process of looking at certain criteria which can be dragged out for the entire life of the 11th parliament. However, he said the government’s members on the committee are sensitive to the need for a consensus within a reasonable time then a vote would have to be taken.

According to the minister, the process has also been affected by the fact that the PPP had not taken up their seats in Parliament for some time.

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