Guyana is closer to exiting from years-long scrutiny of its anti-money laundering framework by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and key inspections have been set for September.
This was disclosed yesterday at a press conference by Attorney General, Basil Williams.
Speaking at the Attorney General’s Chambers, Williams said that this development had come a year after President David Granger gave a high level political commitment to work with FATF and the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) to address the deficiencies in the Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework that the APNU+AFC coalition government inherited from the previous government.
A release from GINA said that the recently held FATF Plenary and working group meetings in Busan, South Korea from June 18-24 last, saw the Plenary adopting the FATF/International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) Co-Chairs Report. This report recognised that Guyana had substantially completed its Action Plan at the Technical level. The ICRG is the FATF body which analyses high-risk and non-co-operative jurisdictions. GINA said that the meeting was attended by Williams and Legal Adviser performing the functions of the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Alicia Williams.
According to Williams, in keeping with the procedures for removing jurisdictions from ICRG review, an on-site visit by FATF officials will take place here in September 15-16. This visit precedes a FATF meeting in October and will verify that the implementation of the AML/CFT reforms has begun and is being sustained.
The bodies that will be visited by the FATF/ICRG Co-Chairs will include the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Special Organised Crime Unit, the Bank of Guyana, the Guyana Securities Council, the Department of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies, the Supervisor of Insurance, money transfer agencies and the commercial banks.
Williams further said that work will be done with the respective agencies to ensure that they are prepared for the on-site visits that will take place during September. GINA said that he stated, “Once the FATF/ICRG Co-Chairs conclude that Guyana has satisfied its on-site verification then a motion will have to be moved in the October Plenary to remove Guyana from the FATF/ICRG’s review list”.
At the recently held CFATF Plenary meeting and working groups agenda held in Montego Bay, Jamaica June 5-9, CFATF had given Guyana a clean bill of health on its ‘Tenth Follow Up Report’, the first submitted by the new Government, GINA added.
Meanwhile, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall has differed with Williams over the outcome of the meeting. In a statement today, Nandlall said that after each meeting, FATF issues a Public Statement summarizing the important decisions it has made in respect of each country under review. He said that he had carefully examined FATF’s Public Statement in respect of Guyana and nowhere in that statement is it stated, either expressly or by implication, that Guyana was cleared to exit FATF and CFATF regimes.
“In my view, the most perplexing part of the statement reads as follows, “Guyana has substantially addressed its action plan at a technical level, including: … (4) Establishing a fully operational and effectively functioning Financial Intelligence Unit.
“It is common knowledge that by virtue of the AMLCFT (Amendment) Act 2015, Act No.1 of 2015, the Coalition Government effectively abolished the existing Financial Intelligence Unit and installed in its place a large bureaucratic super-structure”, Nandlall charged.
He said that this structure includes:
A 20-member body known as the AML/CFT Authority, a Committee of Management of the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Financial Intelligence Unit which consists of the Director, Deputy Director, Managers, an Attorney- at- Law and an Accountant, both of whom are appointed by the Parliamentary Committee on Appointments and other staff.
Nandlall said that thus far, the National Assembly has made none of the aforementioned appointments.
“The Parliamentary Committee on Appointments has appointed neither an Attorney-at- Law nor an Accountant. Therefore, there is no AML/CFT Authority in place, there is no Management Committee of the Financial Intelligence Unit in place, and there is no Financial Intelligence Unit in place. These bodies exist on paper only. I am, therefore, amazed that the FATF has been led to believe that Guyana has a “fully operational and effectively functioning Financial Intelligence Unit”, he stated.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Appointments recently advertised for an attorney-at-law under the AML/CFT Act.