Appointments committee approves attorney for Financial Intelligence Unit

-discussions began in December, 2015

The National Assembly’s Committee on Appointments has approved Yonette Ramao-Scarville for the position of Attorney at Law within the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

Ramao-Scarville was selected for the post at a meeting on April 5, 2017 from which all opposition members of the committee were absent.  Her name will now have to be considered by the National Assembly. Discussions at the committee on selecting a lawyer began on December 23, 2015, raising again the question of the length of time being taken to fill these positions.

According to the fifth report of the committee which was laid in the house on Thursday, before that date the seven members of the nine-person committee present at previous meetings could not agree on a nominee for the post. While the three government members felt Ramao-Scarville had prior work experience and training relevant to the unit, the four opposition members felt that another candidate Coleen Sparman-Stephen had the requisite courtroom experience.

The committee first began the process of appointing a lawyer for the unit in December 2015.

It was mandated by the amended Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML&CFT) Act  to appoint an attorney at law from a short list provided based on application in response to public advertisement.

The post was first advertised on March 22, 2016 and then re-advertised on June 30 after the two applicants were found to not comply with the requirement outlined in the advertisement and legislation.

The new advertisement yielded one applicant who did not fit the criteria.

A decision was then taken to reduce the years of experience required for the position to three years from the initial five years and the post re-advertised on January 28, 2017. Ten applications were subsequently received and processed with six applicants being shortlisted.

Under the AML/CFT Act, the authority will comprise 10 persons who have to be given approval by the National Assembly. In turn, the authority will appoint the Director and Deputy Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) along with the lawyer and accountant of the unit.

In the absence of the authority, the National Assembly has already approved the appointment of the Director and the Deputy Director. Chairman of Committee Dr. George Norton had in April told Stabroek News that the accountant and the lawyer, have been identified but are still to face final interviews.

He had informed that the Committee wrote to various organisations asking for nominees but this proved difficult.

He said that some organisations did respond and in one case the nominee died and the Committee had to request a replacement.

It took the Committee 15 months to identify an accountant for the FIU. According to the Fourth Report of the Committee on Appointments, dated April 13, 2017, and circulated in the National Assembly, the search for an accountant commenced on December 23, 2015 and ended on March 22, 2017. The committee submitted to the National Assembly, the name of Surendra Lall Boodhoo for the position of accountant in the FIU.

The Authority’s specific responsibilities include ensuring that the work of the FIU is conducted in an efficient, fair and cost effective manner, in accordance with policy guidelines determined by the Assembly and the Minister; ensuring, in the national interest, the performance of the FIU accords with international obligations and commitments; monitoring and reviewing compliance with all relevant legislation, policies and measures; ascertaining the need for any legislation or amendments to existing legislation; causing to be investigated any complaint, irregularity or mismanagement concerning the FIU; and proposing remedial action and assisting in the dissemination of information on the work of the FIU, and enlightening the public of the need for co-operation with the FIU.

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